3m forced to flee homes after major flood

More than three million people in part of eastern India are believed to have been forced from their homes by the worst flooding in the region for 50 years.

A flood-affected family takes refuge in a relief camp (Copyright UNICEF India/2008/Rahi)

A flood-affected family takes refuge in a relief camp (Copyright UNICEF India/2008/Rahi)

Aid has been pouring into Bihar, one of India's poorest states, after large swathes of it were engulfed by flood waters last month.

UNICEF estimates millions have been affected, and tens of thousands, including many children, may still be stranded in remote areas.

Many are living out in the open or have fled to relief camps, but some of these have also flooded, forcing people to move again.

The floods began after the Kosi River broke a dam in Nepal and breached mud embankments in Bihar.

UNICEF's India country representative Karin Hulshof said the agency was committed to working with the state government and other agencies to provide relief to the flood-hit people, especially women and children.

"In any disaster, children and women are most vulnerable to disease and distress," she said, during a visit to the state capital on Friday.

"We heard from the government that the flood affected children and women are their top priority. We were in Bihar yesterday, we are there today and will be there tomorrow."

Ms Hulshof met with members of the Government of Bihar, which is responsible for overseeing the relief efforts, to discuss aid arrangements and future rehabilitation of the area.

"Our endeavour will be to support the government to build back better," she said.

UNICEF has so far provided more than 500,000 water purifying tablets, as well as water tanks, medical tents and support for the deployment of doctors and paramedics.

A campaign is also being carried out to vaccinate children in the relief camps and supply them with vitamin A to build up their immunity against disease.

You can watch UNICEF footage of the relief efforts below.

Kate Martin



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