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More than 230,000 forced to flee homes as flooding inundates India’s Kerala

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Aug. 17, 2018)—More than 160 people have died and large swathes of land have been inundated, after monsoon rains dumped more than 25 inches of rain in parts of India’s Kerala state.

At least 230,000 people have already fled their homes and there are reports that over 6,000 miles of the state’s roads have been damaged or destroyed. The full extent of the damage is unlikely to be known for several days or until the floodwaters recede.

Save the Children India’s CEO Bidisha Pillai said Kerala hadn’t seen flooding on this scale in decades.

“We’re hearing reports of damage to major infrastructure and homes, while hundreds of schools are being used to shelter those who fled their homes,” she said.

“We’re especially concerned about the welfare of children, who are more at risk of being swept away by floodwaters. Thousands of families are staying in evacuations centers, not knowing what will be left of their homes when they return. This can be a frightening ordeal for anyone to go through, but this is especially so for children.”

Save the Children is closely monitoring the situation in coordination with government and other non-government agencies, and stands ready to respond to the needs of children and their families.

“Currently very few roads, airstrips or waterways are accessible and it’s clear that an enormous amount of support will be required in the coming days when floodwaters are likely to start receding,” Pillai said.

“Once this starts to happen, it’s critical that children are supported and are able to return to the classroom as quickly and safely as possible, whether that’s to temporary classrooms or their original schools, to help them regain a sense of normal routine.”

If requested, Save the Children will provide vital education and child protection support to affected families, including setting up child friendly spaces, which offer children a safe place to participate in learning and recreation activities, while also providing some respite for parents.

Save the Children has long been a leading responder during humanitarian crises in India, including during the devastating floods in Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal last year.