HUMANITARIAN NEED URGENT AS CHARITIES LAUNCH BANGLADESH CYCLONE APPEAL

23/11/2007

One week after Cyclone Sidr hit southern Bangladesh thousands of desperate people are being helped despite the immense difficulties of delivering aid. The Disaster Emergency Committee today continued to call for donations for its appeal to help the millions of people affected by the cyclone.

Neeti Bhargava, Christian Aid emergency programme officer, who has been travelling to affected villages by motorbike because some roads have been impassable by car, said: “Aid is now getting through even to some of the most remote areas. It is a challenge but people are working around the clock to provide much needed emergency relief.”

However, many remain stranded without food, water or medical supplies and with no shelter to protect them from the torrential weather which has battered the region over the last week.

“Time is ticking and there is only so long people can last without any form of assistance. One of the biggest threats is the lack of access to clean drinking water, the worry is that people will be forced to drink from contaminated water sources,” said Lois Austin, Relief Operations Manager.

Sally Field, a public health worker with Oxfam has visited three of the worst affected areas Bagerhat, Patuakhali, and Barguna. Sally said: “She said: “The situation is very grim. We saw people on the sandbank island who have lost almost everything. The rice paddies have been flattened, the tops of trees broken off and trees uprooted, embankments damaged and livestock killed. Dead animals are everywhere on the land and in the water. Only one or two stone houses have been left standing. Everything the people owned was washed away.”

The Disaster Emergency Committee is comprised of 13 major aid agencies which have all been working to deliver vitally needed humanitarian relief.

ActionAid has been distributing 1,000 family kits containing food, clothes and blankets. Christian Aid, along with five Bangladesh partner organisations are providing around 100,000 with cash distributions, to help people with rebuilding, food or medical needs.

A team of four British Red Cross logistics experts flew to Bangladesh last night to help facilitate the massive emergency relief effort, which includes the distribution of food, water, shelter, clothing and medical supplies to affected people as well as vital items such as tents, blankets, hygiene kits and cooking equipment

A CAFOD partner agency, Action for Disability and Development (ADD), is distributing blankets and clothing to 20,000 people. Whilst another partner, Caritas Bangladesh, will shortly be distributing plastic sheets and bedding to 117,500 people in nine districts.

CARE International UK staff and volunteers have been distributing food packages including wheat and high energy biscuits, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits as well as setting up water purification plants, CARE are planning distributions to up to 68,000 families.

Christian Aid is working with five local partner organisations, one of whom. Gonoshasthaya Kendra, is sending medical teams to treat up to 50,000 people who have sustained injuries in the severely affected areas of Pirojpur and Barguna.

Concern Worldwide, together with three partner agencies has started relief operations in two of the worst–affected districts, Barguna and Patuakhali, targeting 26,000 families. Relief packages will be distributed which including: rice, pulses, vegetable oil, salt, semolina, sugar, oral rehydration salts, soap, blankets, two shawl, mosquito nets, candles and matches.

Help the Aged has been involved in the distribution of food items to over 2,000 families, and is preparing further distributions of food, clothing and medical supplies.

Islamic Relief is working in two of the worst affected areas – Bagergat and Patuakhali – distributing food to 8,500 families. Family kits of tents, clothes, kitchen items and blankets have also been distributed.

Merlin has been involved in providing medical assistance.

Oxfam has begun work on Cash for Work/Labour in Pirojpur Patuakhali, Barguna and Bagerhat. "Debris cleaning", particularly cleaning water courses and removing livestock carcasses, has already begun working with 2,000 families – scaling up to 12,000 families (61,200 people) over the next few days.

Tearfund is currently providing emergency food relief to 10,000 people and helping to repair over 3,500 homes.

During the past week Save the Children has reached more than 90,000 survivors with the basic necessities of survival, including food and clean water,

World Vision has distributed survival relief packages to 2,800 in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone. By November 20, a further 1,600 families had received 7-day packs including blankets and clothing. It is intended to have supplied 20,000 families with a 7-day pack by November 25.