An estimated 25,000 people have been affected – with 150 deaths and hundreds still missing – after flash floods in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, India on Aug. 6 caused widespread destruction and swept away many homes. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing urgently needed medical and humanitarian assistance to people in the worst affected villages in and around the town of Leh. MSF is distributing shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits to 2,000 of the most vulnerable families. The kits contain blankets, soap, jerry cans, clothes, cooking items and tarps. “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 nongovernmental organizations in Leh. In Kargil, the organization will also distribute relief kits to the most affected families to support efforts by state authorities. MSF has worked in Jammu and Kashmir since 2001. Besides basic healthcare, Indian and international staff offer psychosocial counselling to a population traumatized by more than two decades of violence. In 2009, the mental health program treated close to 5,800 people. MSF also provides support to seven clinics in Kupwara, conducting more than 20,500 consultations in 2009. Currently teams are  also supporting victims of the recent violence in the Kashmir valley by providing trauma counselling in hospitals in Srinagar. MSF has carried out several emergency interventions over the years in response to major natural disasters and epidemics in India.

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