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Aid Groups Appeal for Flood Aid for South East Asia

  • Ron Corben

A man wades through flooded area in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, Oct. 2, 2013.

A man wades through flooded area in Ayutthaya province, Thailand, Oct. 2, 2013.

South East Asian regional aid groups have launched appeals to assist millions of people affected by monsoon flooding made worse by recent typhoons. The flooding has added emphasis to calls by United Nations agencies for countries to improve disaster preparedness before climate change further influences storm intensities.

Monsoon floods across South East Asia have affected more than 3 million people and claimed at least 100 lives, mostly in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Aid agencies said central Vietnam's provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa were also still recovering from Typhoon Wutip, which made landfall mid-week.

World Vision and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have launched appeals to assist flood victims.

Kate Roux, with the IFRC South East Asia Office, said there has been extensive damage, and the appeals for aid were for both immediate needs and the longer term recovery for communities.

"There were over 100,000 people - in about four provinces that were evacuated in advance of the typhoon. Over 150,000 houses were damaged or collapsed; a number of people are being sheltered by friends and neighbors so the needs that have been assessed by the Vietnam Red Cross are quite large and we'd like to be able to provide long term support to the families that need assistance from the immediate and in the longer term," said Roux.

The flooding in Laos is reported to be the country's worst in 35 years, claiming at least 20 lives and leaving over 350,000 people in need of emergency food supplies, drinking water and medicine.

World Vision said it responded to appeals in Southern Laos' Champasak Province where 56 villages, home to 53,000 people, were hit by floods. Many people are reported to have been left stranded, triggering calls for emergency food aid amid "scenes of desperation."

IFRC's Kate Roux said Laos's status as a least developed country meant communities there were more vulnerable to the impact of floods.

"Mostly in the south but it's over 220,000 people were affected -- and as a low income, more vulnerable country for the region the concerns are there so the Laos Red Cross and their partner - they are definitely trying to meet the needs, the most immediate needs - being food, clean drinking water, medicines, health care, which is always the most basic. Then we'll be looking to longer term support," said Roux.

Reports Saturday from Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management said the death toll from flooding there had reached 39.

Cambodian officials said the floods have decimated crops, with the loss of over 100,000 hectares of rice paddy fields and other crops. Damage was also reported to hundreds of schools, temples and dozens of regional health centers. More than 130,000 families are feeling the impact of the floods nationwide.

In Thailand, still haunted by memories of devastating floods of two years ago, at least 30 people have died and 3 million people are affected.

The floods come after ongoing warnings by climate change scientists of increased frequency and intensity of storms.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) called on governments to adopt policies to both reduce disaster risk, as well as provide more emergency funding. The UNISDR says increased investment in disaster risk reduction can lead to lower costs and save lives.