The international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing urgently needed medical and humanitarian assistance to people in the worst affected villages in and around Leh, India, and is distributing shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits to 2,000 of the most vulnerable families. The kits contain blankets, soap, jerry cans, some clothes, cooking items and tarpaulins.
“Despite the logistical challenges, we have managed to start distributing relief items to those most in need” said Dr Teshome Ashagre Adebabai, MSF’s team leader in Leh. “This is now the priority. However, we are also assessing medical needs and are mobilizing our resources to meet those needs as soon as possible”.
MSF is coordinating its efforts with those of Save the Children and local NGOs in Leh. In Kargil, the organization will also distribute relief kits to the most affected families to support the disaster management efforts of the state authorities.
Flash floods in Leh have caused widespread destruction and many homes been swept away. An estimated 25,000 people are affected, with 150 deaths and hundreds missing.
MSF has worked in Jammu & Kashmir since 2001. Besides basic healthcare, MSF offers psychosocial counselling to a population traumatized by over two decades of violence. In 2009, MSF’s mental health programme treated almost 5,800 people. MSF also provides support to seven clinics in Kupwara, conducting more than 20,500 consultations in 2009. Currently MSF is also supporting victims of the recent violence in the Kashmir Valley by providing trauma counseling in hospitals in Srinagar.
MSF has carried out several emergency interventions over the years in response to serious natural disasters and epidemics in India.