By Maherin Ahmed in Bangladesh
Flash floods and landslides have claimed more than 130 lives and directly affected up to a million families across Bangladesh. With more heavy rain forecast, and many families still unable to return home, the situation in some areas is expected to deteriorate over the coming weeks.
In response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal for more than 1.75 million Swiss francs (1.8 million US dollars) to provide support for 47,500 people.
The floods began in late June - the start of the monsoon season - and have wreaked havoc on normal life over the past six weeks. Further downpours in mid-July caused flooding in new areas, compounding the disaster.
Many of those affected have sought temporary shelter in schools, mosques and other community spaces. In the southern city of Cox’s Bazaar, people are still in need of basic necessities including food, housing support, and access to safe drinking water and toilet facilities.
Food supplies have been damaged, leaving families reliant on relief, and flood water also washed away existing crops, destroying the main food source which will result in longer-term food shortages.
Monwara Begum in nearby Chakaria has been living by the roadside since her home was destroyed. “Three families are sharing the makeshift residence,” she explained. “At night, women and children sleep inside this shelter, while men seek refuge to the nearby mosque.”
Volunteers from Bangladesh Red Crescent Society responded immediately to the disaster, searching for people trapped in landslides, helping communities evacuate to safer places, distributing food and clothing to evacuees, and providing first aid. Within 24 hours of the first floods, 4,000 affected families were provided with food and other items such as water cans, candles and clothing.
Udaya Regmi, IFRC country representative for Bangladesh, said: “We are fortunate that we have such a strong and committed volunteer force in Bangladesh. We are striving to reach the maximum number of people who are severely affected.”
Immediately after the flood, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the IFRC deployed emergency assessment teams in the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar region, Tista Basin in the north-west of the country, and Sylhet Basin in the north-east. Based on the assessments, the latest appeal will focus on emergency relief in ten districts, providing clothing, food, cooking utensils, tarpaulins, drinking water, emergency heath care, and cash grants of 10,000 Bangladesh taka (125 Swiss francs) per family. The operation will continue until June 2013.