News / Asia

UN: Southeast Asian Floods Trigger Humanitarian Crisis

A soldier offers to take care of an evacuee's dog during an evacuation at Nawa Nakhon industrial estate on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, October 18, 2011.
A soldier offers to take care of an evacuee's dog during an evacuation at Nawa Nakhon industrial estate on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, October 18, 2011.
Ron Corben

The United Nations says ongoing floods in Southeast Asia are triggering a humanitarian crisis.

Floods and disasters in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines have killed more than 700 people and affected eight million others.

The Thai capital remains under threat of flood waters that have already inundated factories considered to be a key part of the country’s economic engine.

Related report by Daniel Schearf

Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary for the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) said Tuesday the U.N. is ready to support communities hit by the catastrophic floods. But Jerry Velasquez, a senior regional coordinator with the U.N.’s International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said that over the long term, countries such as Thailand need a more comprehensive framework to manage disasters, especially floods.

"The main shortcoming right now is that there are about eight institutions centrally that deal with water in Thailand," said Velasquez. "That this is an issue not just for Thailand but most of the countries affected by floods now in the region; there’s no comprehensive framework to deal with water and I think this the main issue."

For Bangkok, a critical 48-hour window

Senior city officials in Bangkok say the next 48 hours are critical for the city, where thousands of volunteers, soldiers and government workers are scrambling to shore up flood defenses.

The death toll in Thailand has reached 315 with flood waters affecting 27 provinces. Weather forecasts indicate more monsoon rains are expected in the coming days.

Economist Somphob Manarungsan says the floods could lead to a sharp fall in Thailand’s economic growth rate over the last quarter, with the economic toll rising to as much as $6 billion.

"Maybe up to two per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] -  that is a tentative figure but I think it is maybe a bit higher than that - which means it may cost 200 billion baht," he said. "But we still don’t know exactly about this because we can still see the flood still going on."

Key areas of Thailand’s industrial heartland, including six major industrial estates and parks, have been hit by flood waters despite desperate efforts to hold back the flood tide.

The industries produce major export items such as automobiles, computer hardware, other industrial goods and food processing. They employ up to 500,000 highly-skilled workers.

Is the worse yet to come?

UNISDR’s Velasquez says U.N. disaster analysis raises fears the current flooding in Thailand may be a prelude to even worse flood catastrophes in the future.

"The question in our minds is that we’ve predicted the most catastrophic floods [as a once-in-200-years] event - [and] the catastrophic one is this already," he said, explaining that relief agencies classify the magnitude of natural disasters by the statistical probability that they would occur in a given time frame. "So is this the most catastrophic or are we going to see far worse in the future? And, for me personally, I think the worst is yet to come.”

In neighboring Cambodia, nearly 80,000 families in Prey Veng province alone are reported to be facing food shortages for the next year due to flood-related crop losses.

The flooding there is seen as the worst in over a decade, though the reports say the Cambodian government has yet to declare a national emergency.

The U.N. says the floods and disasters across the region pose a threat to the countries’ achieving their key development goals by 2015.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid