China: Floods DREF Bulletin No. MDRCN001

The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 185 countries.

In Brief

The Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has released CHF 213,000 (USD 172,291 or EUR 135,684) to support flood relief activities in China. This DREF Bulletin is being issued to describe the scope of support being provided to the Red Cross Society of China, reflecting the information available at this time.

Deadly and powerful tropical storm Bilis hit China shortly over one week ago on 14 July accompanied by heavy rainfall and serious floods in southern and eastern areas of China. Hunan province's Chenzhou and Hangyang prefectures are amongst the hardest hit areas where floods have left 400,000 people homeless, with an urgent need to provide food and blankets to some 100,000 people currently housed in temporary mass shelters. DREF will be used to support the Red Cross Society of China's (RCSC) Hunan provincial branch to provide rice, blankets and water purification materials to affected families in Hunan. These activities are being coordinated through the RCSC headquarters, who are seeking national support and support from RCSC branches to meet immediate needs in additional provinces affected by recent floods and storms through a national appeal.

The distribution of relief items is expected to be implemented over the next four weeks and will be completed by 31 August 2006. The Federation is currently seeking unearmarked funds to repay DREF. Based on increasing needs of the displaced, the Federation is also considering the possibility of launching an international appeal in the coming weeks.

On 22 July, an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale hit Yanjin county of Yunnan province and further added to the destruction caused by tropical storm Bilis.

Background and current situation

In China, June - August is regarded as the "high" flood season, where heavy rains particularly in mountainous areas can trigger flash floods and landslides that leave thousands of poor rural families homeless on an annual basis. Since April 2006, the country has been host to a repeated series of destructive hailstorms, floods, landslides, tropical storms and typhoons that have resulted in the evacuation of millions of people, leaving thousands of families homeless and destroying livelihoods through the loss of precious land and crops.

Deadly and powerful tropical storm Bilis hit China shortly over one week ago on 14 July accompanied by heavy rainfall and serious floods in southern and eastern areas of China, including Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi. According to information provided by the ministry of civil affairs on Saturday 22 July nationwide, heavy rains and floods related to tropical storm Bilis have destroyed 212,000 houses and damaged 287,000 more, forcing the evacuation of 2.95 million people. Local wells and water sources have been tainted or disrupted due to the floods creating high needs for potable water. In Zixing City alone, administrated by Chenzhou in Hunan, 197 people were confirmed dead and 69 missing.

China's state flood control and Drought relief headquarters has responded to the recent emergency, deploying task forces to check flood prevention and control efforts along major rivers, while government disaster response teams have been deployed to flood-affected areas to aid with the evacuation of and temporary settlement of vulnerable affected communities.

For the millions of people, mostly the rural poor who have been evacuated country wide, and the thousands who lost their homes and crops over recent weeks, the period of temporary displacement can often last up to as long as three months to one year. Displaced by the floods, families will seek temporary shelter in public buildings, with family members or live outside in makeshift shelters until the flood waters dissipate. This displacement increases the demand for emergency relief items: water purification tablets; disinfectant to prevent the spread of disease from overflowing pit latrines common to rural areas and animal pens; quilts and warm clothing to shield those who are homeless from the damp weather; and plastic sheeting that can be used to protect personal items and rice or for temporary shelter.

In addition to the damage and devastation caused by tropical storm Bilis, on Saturday 22 July, an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale struck Yanjin county that is situated in a mountainous part of Yunnan province. Over 1,400 houses were completely destroyed and 38,000 sustained damaged in 13 townships of Yanjin. This follows two days of flash floods in the province which killed at least eight people and left 27 others missing. China is highly disaster prone, according to the latest government statistics 437 major natural disasters occurred in 2005, which is slightly more than one large scale natural disaster per day throughout the heavily populated country.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Red Cross Society of China: Wang Xiaohua (director of external relations department); email: rcsc@chineseredcross.org; phone: +86.10.6404.8366, fax: +86.10.6402.9928.

East Asia regional delegation in China: Alistair Henley (head of regional delegation), email: alistair.henley@ifrc.org; phone: +86.10.65327162, fax: +86.10.65327166.

Federation secretariat (Asia and Pacific department) in Geneva: Ewa Eriksson (regional officer), email: ewa.eriksson@ifrc.org; phone: +41.22.730.4252; fax: +41.22.733.0395

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