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Hurricane Harvey Leaves 200 Indian Students Stranded, 2 Admitted to ICU, Says Sushma Swaraj

Continuous rainfall threatens to aggravate an already-dangerous situation as water logging has brought the entire city to a stand-still.

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Tropical storm Harvey
Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister of India. Wikimedia
  • Flooding from tropical storm Harvey is increasingly overburdening resources and threatening life in Texas
  • Two hundred Indian students have been stranded at University of Houston 
  • External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is currently makings efforts to help the stranded students

New Delhi, August 28, 2017 : Two hundred Indian students of the University of Houston have been marooned in floods in the wake of tropical storm Harvey causing heavy rains and flooding in America’s fourth largest city. Two Indian students are in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday.

“@CGHoust has informed me that 200 Indian students at University of Houston are marooned. They are surrounded by neck deep water,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

“We made efforts for delivery of food but US Coast Guard did not allow as boats were required for rescue operations,” she said.

Stating that Indian Consul General in Houston Anupam Ray was organising the rescue operations, Sushma Swaraj said in a separate tweet: “Indian students Shalini and Nikhil Bhatia are in ICU. We are ensuring that their relatives reach there at the earliest.”

According to a media report, at least two people have been killed as the Houston area continues to be inundated by torrential rain and catastrophic flooding from Harvey, which officials called an “unprecedented” weather event that has left thousands of homes flooded, stranding people and overwhelming rescue workers. (IANS)

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India’s Diwali Promise, Medical Visas to All Deserving

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Shushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj. IANS

New Delhi, October 19: Marking the auspicious occasion of Diwali, India on Thursday made a Diwali promise medical visas all those people abroad, including in Pakistan, seeking treatment.

“On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant a medical visa in all deserving cases pending today,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Keeping to a promise made on Independence Day, India on Wednesday issued six more medical visas to Pakistani nationals, including three children.

“We will issue visa to facilitate treatment of your eight-year-old child in India,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday night in response to a request from Nazir Ahmed who said that his son Mohammad Ahmed was awaiting a medical visa from India for one year.

In a separate tweet, she also promised a visa to Muhammad Asif Malik’s son, who is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) in children’s hospital in Lahore, and to Kasif Chacha’s child who is running out of medicine.

Visas were also issued to Irfan Ahmed Shaikh, Nasir Mahmood and the mother of Rafique Menon for liver surgeries.

This month, Sushma Swaraj has announced the issuance of 19 medical visas to Pakistanis for treatment in India as Diwali promise.

Last month, India issued a medical visa to a Pakistani child seeking open heart surgery.

On Independence Day, the External Affairs Ministry made a Diwali promise that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, on July 18, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for a liver tumor, got a visa.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas.(IANS)

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Sushma Swaraj at UN: After 70 years, India IT superpower, Pakistan is terror export factory

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Sushma Swaraj at the UN general Assembly
Sushma Swaraj at UN general Assembly

United Nations, Sep 23: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Saturday, launched a stinging attack against Pakistan at the UN General Assembly. She said that in the 70 years of the independence, India had grown as an IT superpower, while Pakistan has emerged as a pre-eminent factory for the export of terror.

“We are fighting poverty. But our neighbour Pakistan seems only engaged in fighting us,” she said in her address to the United Nations General Assembly and responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi’s allegations that India was sponsoring terrorism.

She threw a taunt at the Pakistan Prime Minister while referring to his accusations that India was violating human rights in Jammu and Kashmir: “Those listening to him (Abbasi) had only one observation: ‘Look who is talking’.”

“A country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium.

“I would like today to tell Pakistan’s politicians just this much, that perhaps the wisest thing they could do is to look within. India and Pakistan became free within hours of each other. Why is it that India today is a recognised IT superpower in the world and Pakistan recognised only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror.”?

She said while India fought terrorism exported by Pakistan it did not neglect development work at home.

“We created IITs, IIMs, AIIMS while Pakistan created LeT, Haqqanis, JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen,” she said, referring to Pakistan-based terror groups.

Sushma Swaraj asked the UN not to see terrorism with “self-defeating and indeed meaningless nuance”.

(IANS)

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UNICEF Calls for Action : 16 Million Children Continue to Suffer as Floods in South Asia Claim More than 1,300 Lives

According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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India army soldiers carry children rescued from flood affected villages near Thara in Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (VOA)
  • Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have claimed more than 1,300 lives in the last two months
  • According to UNICEF, over 16 million children in the three countries are in urgent need of life-saving support
  • Persistent rainfall has damaged school infrastructure, apart from depriving children of safe places to stay at, and necessities like drinking water and food

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Hurricane Harvey created havoc in Houston in August, claiming 15 lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. The event was largely covered by national and international media alike, keeping people abreast with the latest updates. However, the floods in South Asia, which are equally devastating, are yet to receive due coverage from international media. According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In its entirety, over 45 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rains and its resulting floods.

Floods in South Asia

For over two months, incessant rains have submerged numerous villages thereby forcing vast numbers of people into evacuation centers and relief camps.

According to a UN Agency report, over 16 million children residing in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are in dire need of life-saving support due to weeks of torrential monsoons that have given rise to ‘catastrophic’ floods in the three South Asian countries.

UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough noted that millions of children have already been affected by these devastating floods as incessant rains continue to pose potential threat.  “Children have lost their homes, schools, and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added, according to a report by PTI.

According to official figures, at least 1,288 deaths have been reported since mid-August.

Gough believes the persistent rainfall and the resulting water accumulation have damaged school infrastructure among other things which will hamper children from attending classes for weeks, or even months. According to her, “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”

Among other urgent needs of these children are clean drinking water, sufficient food supplies, hygiene supplies to control and combat the spread of potential diseases and safe evacuation places for the children to stay at, study and play.

ALSO READ Thousands displaced in Myanmar due to floods

Devastation from floods in India

According to a report by PTI, in the northern part of the country, over 31 million people have been affected in four states due to the extensive flooding. Out of this, 12.33 million sufferers are believed to be children.

The tally of houses damaged by the floods has reached 805,183 while 15,455 schools have been damaged, that has disrupted the education of children.

Additionally, the heavy downpour in Mumbai has already claimed five deaths due to drowning while twelve people, including two children have died due to the collapse of a building.

ALSO READ Why do buildings collapse?

Rescue operations are being undertaken in these states by their respective state governments, which include carrying out relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations.

Furthermore, the state governments have also sought multi-sectoral planning and coordination support from UNICEF in the three worst affected states. These include Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Devastation from floods in Bangladesh

According to Oxfam, with the rising water levels, the flooding is believed to be the worst since 1988 with nearly two-thirds of the country currently submerged under water.

More than 8 million people are reported to have been hit by the floods in Bangladesh, out of which 3 million are allegedly children. Primary and community educational institutions across the country have been terribly hit with as many as 2,292 schools reportedly damaged by the high water.

The country has also reported over 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases.

Devastation from floods in Nepal

Floods in Nepal have displaced 352,738 people from their homes, thus, affecting over 1.7 million people. The water has reportedly surfaced to dangerous levels, to escape which people are making use of makeshift rafts and elephants for rescue operations.

According to a report by PTI, damage to nearly 1,958 schools has affected the education of over 253,605 children.

Major media giants across the world are pledging their support to help combat the scale of  destruction.

In a blog post, Google Vice-President of South East Asia and India wrote, “We are committing $1 million from Google.org and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts.”

The NGO, Goonj aims to offer assistance to over 75,000 affected families across India and provide them with basic needs like food, blankets and hygiene supply while on the other hand, Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly public spaces for the children to have access to educational material.

Similar organizations have taken up an active role to help rebuild infrastructure for the community like roads, bridges and physical infrastructures.

What causes floods in South Asia?

Apart from the high magnitude of rainfall received this year, the floods in south Asia are believed to have been aggravated by human actions such as reckless construction on floodplains and in the coastal areas, waterways clogged by garbage and a faulty drainage system

According to a report published by VOA, experts have pointed out the inefficiency of the governments of the three countries and have said that is has become increasingly evident that the South Asian governments were unprepared for the annual monsoon showers.

However, disaster management officials also assert that it will be unfair to criticize the governments in view of the magnitude of the floods this year.


 

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