Relief and development agency CARE International today launched an appeal for the state of Orissa, which was devastated over the weekend by one of the most powerful cyclones to hit India this century.
CARE International’s teams in the region have swung into a full emergency footing as more than 15 million people in ten districts have been affected by the disaster. Early estimates indicate over 5,000 may be dead.
‘The destruction is unbelievable’ says CARE International’s programme manager for India, Marcos Neto. ‘Almost all of the buildings that weren’t made of concrete have been swept away – along with the livelihoods of millions of poor families.’
CARE International was the first non-governmental organisation to begin humanitarian relief operations in the cyclone-hit state.
The agency responded to the emergency following a direct request from the government of Orissa. Four days after the cyclone struck many towns and villages remain cut off by flooding.
Driven from their homes, millions of families have little food. The risk of disease remains high because rainwater mixed with raw sewage has contaminated wells and drinking water.
CARE International is working with the Indian government to arrange food deliveries and supplies of sheeting and shelter material and tonight will deliver aid by rail from West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
Previously, because of the high floodwater, airdrops of supplies were the only way of reaching millions of marooned villages – many of whose inhabitatants were forced to escape the floods by climbing up onto the roofs of the those buildings still standing.
‘These people have lost everything’ says Neto. ‘We need urgent funds to provide shelter, food and water. After that we will look at how we can help them in the longer term.
We are appealing to people on Britain, particularly members of the UK’s Asian community, to help us deliver life-saving aid to millions of people who desperately need our help today.’