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Caritas seeks funds to aid flood victims in Bangladesh

At least 15 districts are affected by flooding from heavy rain, officials say

Caritas seeks funds to aid flood victims in Bangladesh

Children are seen on the bank of a river in northern Bangladesh during monsoon flooding in this file photo. Flooding has hit millions in Bangladesh over the past week. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News) 

Monsoon flooding has hit millions in vast areas of low-lying Bangladesh as officials warn of worsening conditions and charity groups including Caritas seek aid to support flood victims.

About one-third of Bangladesh is poised to be under floodwater due to rising water levels of the major Padma and Jamuna rivers fed by heavy rain over recent days, officials say.  

The latest forecast from the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center says that river water levels could rise further in the next 24 hours due to heavy rains.

“This is an early-stage calculation. I am getting statistics every day. It is raining heavily upstream. The lowlands are flooded. Some new areas are being flooded. The amount of damage is expected to increase,” Tariq Abdhullah Al Fayyaz, superintending engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board, told UCA News.

“The water level will rise in the next three to four days and as a result the lower part of the country will be more affected. ‍Around 15 districts are now affected by floods and it will rise. We have to be more prepared,” he said.

Ashraf Khan, a Muslim resident of the Sariyakandi area of flood-hit Bogra district in the north, said his five-member family has been forced to abandon their house after it was inundated by floodwater. They have been sheltering in a makeshift tent on a road for several days.

We have no shortage of relief materials. We are ready to deal with the flood

“We have shifted our stuff and belongings to the roadside as the floodwater kept rising. We will send the children to a relative's house. I will stay here with my wife to protect our belongings,” Khan, a day laborer, told UCA News.

He said that they have food for three days and feared that if flooding is prolonged and aid delayed, their condition will worsen soon.

Anisur Rahman, director (relief) at the state-run Department of Disaster Management, said the government has allocated food grains and cash for flood-hit districts.

“We already have adequate relief in the flood-hit districts and relief is still being provided from there. The flood situation is still being monitored from the center. We have no shortage of relief materials. We are ready to deal with the flood,” Rahman said 

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Abdur Rahim, relief and rehablitation officer in Sirajganj district, said flooding has affected at least 20,000 people in more than 100 villages.

“The flood victims have been given shelter in 139 centers. Besides, 125 metric tonnes of rice and 500,000 taka [US$5,886] in cash have been allocated,” he said.

Caritas has asked for funding from donors to provide aid to flood victims, said Sukleash George Costa, regional director of Caritas Rajshahi, which covers northern Bangladesh

“We are now in the early stages of preparation. We have informed the national office and donor agencies about the flood situation and requested funding,” Costa told UCA News.

He said food aid will initially be provided from their own funds and, with more funding from donors, victims will get substantial support for rehabilitation, he said.

“We have surveyed the affected areas through our teams. We will send the results to the national office and soon we will be able to provide assistance to the affected people” said Ronjon J.P. Rozario, acting regional director of Caritas Dinajpur.

Flooding is a common natural disaster in low-lying Bangladesh, a South Asian country just a few meters above sea level and located on the world’s largest river delta system that empties into the Bay of Bengal, making it also prone other natural calamities like tidal surges and cyclones, climatologists say.

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