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Remember, South Asia Is Flooded Too

Bangladesh, India and Nepal are not experiencing a normal monsoon season this year – while torrential rain is expected in South Asia between July and September, the current water levels have created an international crisis, the current death toll being at 1,200 with 40 million affected by the floods, including 16 million children.

In Bangladesh alone, one week’s worth of rainfall fell in just a few hours in mid-August. And unfortunately, we can’t expect the trouble to stop anytime soon, as the rains and the troubles they bring with them are expected to continue until the end of September.

People in the affected areas are being attacked from all angles by these floods. At the most basic level, the deadly combination of hot weather, contaminated water and insufficient drainage gives disease a perfect foothold and puts millions of lives at risk, in Bangladesh, local governments having been scrabbling to find necessities like water purification tablets and medicines. Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has been “paralyzed” by the flooding.

Across all the affected nations children have been unable to take their summer exams due to the closure of more than 18,000 schools, leading to fears that some children may end up dropping out of the education system permanently in the midst of this wider humanitarian crisis.

One of the most alarming things to come out of this catastrophic event, however, is the fact that it has been vastly underreported in traditional Western media. In the UK, TV news has extensively covered the destruction and flooding in Texas, and rightly so, as Hurricane Harvey has been classified as a “500-year flood” that has caused at least $70 billion dollars of damage, many estimating higher.

Nobody should be trying to pit natural disasters against each other in order to decide which group of people should “deserve” more sympathy, but there is clearly something out of order when two major crises are occurring on opposite sides of the world, and the one with an official death toll of 51 is reported more than the one with a death toll of 1,200 and counting. ‘Houston’ has been the city on everybody’s lips, while in Mumbai a residential building collapsed and lead to the deaths of at least 21 people; a tiny part of the overall floods in South Asia claimed more than half the lives taken by Hurricane Harvey.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t pray for Texas and send aid to the areas affected by the hurricane? Of course not. What we should do is keep in mind that it is easy to forget about those who seem faraway and unconnected to us, when their suffering is just as devastating and important as that of our close neighbors.

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