Caritas joins government in helping Bangladesh cyclone victims

Up to 100,000 homes left destroyed, damaged after storm whips up tidal surge along coastal areas
Caritas joins government in helping Bangladesh cyclone victims

Bangladeshi rescue workers search for survivors after Cyclone Roanu hit Chittagong on May 21. Cyclone Roanu struck the Bangladesh coast on May 21 killing 26 people and forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes as the storm unleashed strong winds and heavy downpours. (Photo by AFP)

Caritas is working with Bangladesh authorities in offering aid to tens of thousands of people left homeless by Cyclone Roanu.

The cyclone, packing winds up to 88 kilometers per hour, caused a tidal surge along the Bangladesh coast on May 21, leaving at least 26 people dead.

The government had ordered the evacuation of about 2 million people in 19 coastal districts. However, many believed the storm was weakening after striking Sri Lanka a few days earlier and refused to leave their homes.

Caritas field officers and volunteers took part in a cyclone warning campaign and in evacuating thousands of people to 246 Caritas-run cyclone shelters in coastal districts.

The government runs more than 4,000 cyclone shelters in coastal areas for an estimated 20 million residents.

Four coastal districts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Bhola and Noakhali were worst affected with up to 100,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

Two days after the storm many people remain homeless without any aid.

About 10,000 people who lost their houses in the storm are running out of food supply and many complained of not getting any aid, reports said.

Caritas in Chittagong is conducting an assessment with local government authorities to determine the needs of affected people.

"Our field officers are trying to determine how many people have been affected, what their needs are and what kind of support they have already received," James Gomes, Caritas Chittagong regional director, told ucanews.com.

He said Caritas would start distributing 3,000-4,000 taka (US$ 40-50) to cyclone victims, as part of emergency aid, in the next couple of days.

"We have submitted two situation reports to Caritas Internationalis and donors are likely to respond within 48 hours. Then, we will up aid efforts including the rehabilitation of the victims," Gomes said.

"The storm swept away our house and we have no place to live. My family is starving and are yet to receive any aid," Muhammad Yusuf, a farmer Tazumuddin, in Bhola district told local news portal Bhola News.

Disaster Management Department officials say up to 100,000 families have been affected by the cyclone with homes, crops and fishery stocks battered by strong winds, seawater intrusion and heavy rain.

The government has allocated 1.5 million taka (US$ 19,230) and 400 metric tons of rice for each of the four worst affected districts, said M. Khalid Mahmood, a joint secretary at the Disaster Management Department.

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"We are conducting a joint needs assessment to get a full picture of the damage done," Mahmood told ucanews.com.

Mahmood says about 30,000 families have been badly hit by the cyclone with over 100,000 families having been partially affected.

The storm has completely destroyed 25,000-30,000 houses and partially damaged 50,000-55,000 other homes.

Reeling from climate change impacts, natural disasters like cyclones, tidal surges and flooding are common in low-lying Bangladesh.

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