Responding to devastating floods in Kashmir


September 12, 2014

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  • A Kashmiri family walks through the floodwaters in Srinagar on September 10. Photo: PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

Days of torrential rain in Kashmir — a Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan — have caused the worst flooding there in half a century, and left at least 450 people dead across both countries.

Approximately 1.5 million people throughout the region have been affected by the catastrophic floods, which submerged some 350 villages. More than 200,000 people are stranded in the higher areas of Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir and one of the cities most devastated by the deadly waters.

Mercy Corps’ team in Srinagar has been distributing clean drinking water, baby food and medicine to stranded families over the last several days.

About 50-percent of the city is still under water, and with communication networks shut down and many roads completely washed away, rescue and relief efforts have been severely hampered.

People affected by the floods have lost their homes and are in urgent need of emergency food, water and shelter supplies. All sources of clean water have been submerged — destroyed and contaminated.

Families must wade through stagnant contaminated water to transport any supplies they might have from place to place, and some people are getting rashes or other health problems from contact with the water.

Without help, there is a risk that people will starve while they are stranded or that makeshift camps may face outbreaks of communicable diseases like cholera.

Our team is continuing to monitor the urgent needs of families who are stranded and working around the clock to scale up our emergency response to reach as many people as possible under the difficult conditions. In the coming weeks, we will begin providing essential emergency supplies to families and will work to improve water and sanitation issues.