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UN Says Tens of Thousands of Flood Victims in Western Nepal Need Food

The United Nations World Food Program is appealing for $2.5 million for an emergency food program in Western Nepal, which has been inundated by heavy flooding this week. The WFP says the money will be used to feed about 170,000 people for one month. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Incessant rainfall in the mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal this week has caused flooding and landslides in eight regions. The United Nations reports at least 30 people have been killed and 30 are missing.

World Food Program spokeswoman Emilia Casella says the organization has to find the money to feed 170,000 flood victims in the West who have lost practically everything.

"Imagine when 170,000 people are displaced by severe flooding, it means they have lost their homes," she said. "They have lost their livelihoods and, unfortunately in some cases, family members. So when a community has to recover from something like this even if they are only displaced from their homes for a few weeks until the waters recede it can take months to rebuild."

Casella says crops have been lost and planted crops have been destroyed. So food assistance, she says, will need to continue for some time to come.

She says the WFP will provide the flood victims with a mixed-commodity basket of rice, lentils, vegetable oil and salt, as part of this new multimillion dollar emergency operation.

The floods in western Nepal come on top of severe flooding last month in eastern Nepal, when the Koshi River, one of the largest river basins in Asia, breached its embankment.

Flooding there has caused widespread devastation, displacing 70,000 people. Most are staying in temporary shelters or in ad hoc settlements.

The United Nations warns debris and dead cattle in the region pose a big threat to hygiene. It says encephalitis cases have been reported and it fears an upsurge in cases of malaria.

The United Nations and its partners are appealing for $15.5 to help monsoon victims in the east over the next six months. This money will supplement a $100 million appeal that was previously launched to address chronic problems in Nepal this year.

Casella says the World Food Program is providing food assistance to the 70,000 people in eastern Nepal in addition to the new flood victims in the West. She says this brings the total number of beneficiaries to 220,000.