Nearly a quarter of a million Bangladeshis who survived when a cyclone ripped through their villages and farmland now face the threat of floods as the monsoon season approaches, the Red Cross warned on Monday.
Packing wind speeds of up to 90 kph (56 mph) and torrential rains, cyclone Roanu struck Bangladesh on May 21 disrupting the lives of around 1.3 million people who eke out a living from fishing and farming along Bangladesh’s coastline.
Hundreds of thousands of mud-and-thatch houses were torn apart by Roanu’s strong winds, while tidal surges swept away thousands of fishing boats and submerged large swathes of low-lying agricultural land with salt water.
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“The people of Bangladesh are no strangers to natural disasters. But that does not mean they are able to pick up the pieces on their own,” said Azmat Ulla, the head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Bangladesh.
“The increasing frequency of emergencies means that people struggle to recover from one disaster to the next. We need to see more humanitarian investment to build the resilience of such communities,” he added.
Ulla said half of the 500,000 coastal inhabitants who were evacuated to cyclone shelters ahead of May 21 disaster could not return to their homes or even start earning a living as their homes were flattened and they had no means of income.
They not only needed items such as dry food rations and clean drinking water, but also jobs and cash to rebuild their homes especially with the onset of the monsoon season.
The monsoon is expected to bring more rain across the country in the coming weeks, said the Red Cross, and the damage caused by Roanu to protective embankments means people are even more vulnerable to further flooding.
The IFRC launched an emergency appeal on June 3 for over $2 million to help 55,000 people living in the coastal districts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Bhola, Barguna, Lakshmipur, Noakhali and Patuakhali.
The funds are for items such as food, clean water, tarpaulin sheets and medicines.
It would also be used as cash grants so people could buy materials to rebuild their homes or equipment such as agricultural tools or fishing boats and nets.
But the Red Cross said they had only received 34 percent of funds required, saying the international community had failed to respond adequately to the needs of thousands of cyclone-hit Bangladeshis.
“Many people have lost their livelihoods and it’s going to take time for them to recover. Food and clean water are in very short supply, while thousands have lost their homes,” said Ulla.