View stories for the week of August 6th, 2007

Flooding victims reach for help from the skies

August 9, 2007

Bangladesh and Nepal have received aid from the UN World Food Program and UNICEF but the agencies have received no official requests from India. An editorial in the Hindustan Times argues that authorities in northern India's Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Bihar states should have done much more before hundreds of people died and millions were displaced. The editorial states "Floods are nothing new in these areas. It is the intensity of the floods that differ from year to year. The state governments' lack of preparedness is criminal."   In an interview with APTN, the UN's regional health boss describes the staggering humanitarian crisis facing flood refugees and relief workers.

South Asian floods take economic toll

August 9, 2007

Afsan Chowdhury has spent years dealing with crisis and disaster management in South Asia. In a phone interview from Dhaka, he says the latest monsoon flooding will have a long-term socio-economic impact on the most poor.

Record South Asian floods bring fear of disease

August 7, 2007

Steady monsoon rains normally batter South Asia between June and September. But officials say this summer's rain and flooding may be the worst in 30 years. Because so many people live in low-lying areas, they have little protection from floods. The people of Bangladesh, Nepal, and India's Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states are also among Asia's poorest. Marzio Babille, the chief of health for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that clean water, basic hygiene and sanitation are "an apocalyptic issue" in these countries. Everywhere there are dangerous shortages of food, medicines and clean water. Local health authorities also warn about epidemics of encephalitis, malaria, dysentery, dengue fever and other diseases. In a report issued today, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Association, another UN agency, said many parts of the globe have experienced weather extremes since the beginning of the year. It includes the current monsoon and flooding in South Asia.   APTN cameras recorded the ongoing flood damage and relief efforts in Bangladesh, Nepal and northern India.      

Israeli army evicts dozens of Hebron settlers

August 7, 2007

Today in Hebron, Israeli troops used sledgehammers to smash through welded doors and concrete bunkers to get at Jewish settlers who threw stones and poured oil and water on them. The settlers had claimed ownership of two houses. Dozens of settlers and soldiers were slightly injured in the melee.   Hundreds of thousands of other Israelis remain in illegal settlements in the West Bank. They were established after Israel began its occupation of the territory in 1967 following the Six Day War.   Hebron is home to about 150,000 Palestinian Muslims and Christians as well as 700 ultra-religious Israeli settlers who are often heavely armed. Prior to riots in 1929, there was a Jewish Quarter in biblical Hebron.   Twelve orthodox soldiers who had refused to take part in today’s operation were earlier sentenced to 28 days in jail. The evictions came one day after the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas met for three hours in the West Bank town of Jericho.   In a deal with the Palestinian Authority, Israel agreed to evacuate 80 percent of Jewish settlers from Hebron in 1997. But Israel kept control of Hebron’s market. It has been a closed military zone since 1994 when a Jewish extremist, Baruch Goldstein, shot and killed 29 Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, sacred to both Muslims and Jews.   APTN cameras recorded today’s drama as it began just after sunrise and ended about three hours later.