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Historic monsoon devastates Bangladesh
Northern Bangladesh and certain regions of India have been battered by violent monsoon rains since 10 June, causing floods and landslides. In Bangladesh, over 4 million people are currently affected by the disaster, particularly in the Sylhet and Rangpur regions. With the help of the Swiss authorities, the Swiss Red Cross is providing CHF 150 000 in financial support for the Bangladesh Red Crescent.
Hundreds of thousands of people need to be evacuated. Telecommunications have been severed because of power cuts over the past few days. Air, rail and road travel has been disrupted. In the areas affected by the disaster, people are in urgent need of shelter, food, drinking water, latrines and medical treatment. The local markets are out of operation and it is impossible to find essential day-to-day items.
Flooding and food crisis
It is feared that the situation will get much worse over the next few days, and a severe food crisis is imminent. Almost 48,000 hectares of ‘aush’ (a local type of rice) have already been destroyed and the harvesting of other cereal crops might be delayed.
Red Crescent mobilized
Red Crescent teams have been deployed to help the people affected by the disaster. Over 460,000 people are already living in temporary shelters. More than 300 Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers are working in the two worst affected districts. They hand out food, drinking water and hygiene kits, and provide first aid. More than 75,000 litres of drinking water have already been distributed.
With the help of the Swiss authorities, the Swiss Red Cross is providing CHF 250 000 in financial support for its sister national society. “We are ready to provide more help if the flooding affects the nearby districts of Kurigram and Gaibandha, where we are running a rural resilience programme in collaboration with the Bangladesh Red Crescent,” explains Benedikt Kälin, CRS country coordinator for Bangladesh. Several areas are already under water and the river islands are threatened by erosion.
A region on the brink
This is not the first time that this region has seen flooding this year. More than two million people were affected by flash floods in the Sylhet region in late May, an event described as the worst flooding in two decades. This record was beaten in less than a month, with the worst floods in this region for a century. The impact of climate change is obvious and some communities are suffering the consequences in the form of frequent serious flooding like this.