Dhaka - The populations hit by the recent cyclone in Bangladesh urgently need further humanitarian aid: this is the appeal launched to Agenzia Fides by Snigdha Chakraborty, at the head of "Catholic Relief Service" for Bangladesh. CRS, a Catholic humanitarian organization, which depends on the United States Bishops' Conference, is working with Caritas Bangladesh to carry out an initial assessment of the damage and provide immediate assistance to those affected. The 9 November cyclone hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh and India, especially West Bengal, causing at least 34 victims.
Catholic Relief Services and its other humanitarian organizations have mobilized but "we need more support", says Chakraborty. "Many people need significant support, but it must be said that the prevention activities prepared by the government have borne fruit. Most people have been able to enter shelters prepared for evacuation and are out of danger", he said.
The storm has damaged thousands of homes and nearly 500,000 hectares of crops. Over 2 million people have been forced to shelters. "Those affected need food, tents, toilets, medical assistance", says Chakraborty. "We are concerned that the cyclone shelters are not sufficient for anything more than a very short stay. People are eating snack food and bread as the shelters have no facilities to cook", he explains.
"Families will be in the shelters at minimum another two days under heavy rains, and for the people who return to find their homes damaged or destroyed, they are looking at even longer displacement … Caritas Bangladesh has provided their shelters with water jars sufficient through today, but this will be a critical need for the next few days", he adds.
CRS has partnered with Caritas Bangladesh, both of which helped with evacuations. Among the 300 operational shelters, Caritas Bangladesh opened 40 cyclone shelters. CRS is doing its best especially in areas that are difficult to reach inland. "Right now, we are very focused on the badly affected Sathkhira and Khulna districts on the coast, which continue to experience heavy rain and high winds", he said.
"According to early reports, significant losses in agriculture and heavy damage to homes are registered in Khulna. Storms have devastated remote areas of Sathkhira". The CRS manager concludes: "Government and volunteers have done a good job. But now that we have rescued them, we need to make an extra effort to support the victims". >>