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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More