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Christian Aid sends emergency funds to Bihar

Christian Aid has released an initial £200,000 to its partner organisations in India as a massive rescue and relief operation gets underway in the state of Bihar.

The government has ordered the immediate evacuation of two million people in the worst affected districts in the northern state, which is the poorest in India.

Last week the Kosi River breached a dam on the Nepal-India border and huge waves of water flooded through a channel which was previously abandoned. It is the worst flooding in Bihar in 50 years.

‘Our partners are hugely experienced; they responded immediately after the floods last year and they are already working on the ground,’ said Anand Kumar, Christian Aid’s representative in India.

Christian Aid partner, CASA, has offices in Bihar and through its network of field offices is feeding 5,000 people. It has extensive experience in working in emergencies.

EHA, a health-based partner based in Madhepura town is looking after the tens of thousands of people who are stranded on high ground, providing medical aid and taking measures to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases. It has also set up community kitchens.

JUDAV is an activists-based association which is making an assessment of the worst-hit districts to evaluate the most urgent needs.

‘The government has ordered the evacuation of the Araria and Katihar districts and it is likely they will do so for three more districts,’ said Mr Kumar. ‘This is an unprecedented disaster which will require long-term assistance.’

Roads, railway lines and food crops have been washed away. Water and electricity supplies have been affected. Over 5,000 schools in the region have been washed away. It’s estimated 250,000 homes have been destroyed leaving 3.5 million people homeless.

There are reports of bodies and animal carcasses in the flood waters which are increasing fears of outbreaks of disease and diarrhoea.

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared the situation a ‘national calamity’.

There are fears the situation will worsen over the weekend as heavy rain is predicted in the region.

Notes to editors:

For more information or interviews with Christian Aid partner organisations in Bihar contact Judith Melby on 07720 467 679 or jmelby@christian-aid.org or Anand Kumar on + 91 99580 44844 or anand@christian-aidindia.org