A family stand at the door of their house affected by flooding in a village in Kurigram district of Bangladesh. (Photo: Liton Das)
Top officials from Catholic charity Caritas have called for immediate emergency aid from the international community as the Bangladesh government and aid agencies struggle to assist millions of people affected by devastating monsoon flooding.
One of the worst floods in years, triggered by heavy monsoon rain and an onrush of water from transboundary rivers in upstream India, has affected 5.44 million people in 33 districts in northern and central parts of Bangladesh, according to Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, head of the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center.
The flood situation is now static but will take weeks to improve, he noted.
Millions of people in South Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan have been affected by flooding and about 350 people have died so far, Al Jazeera reported on Aug. 1.
To assist victims, the Bangladesh government has distributed 34.45 million taka (US$407,000), 9,421 metric tons of rice and 113,922 packets of dry food as well as cash aid for baby food, cattle fodder and house repairs, according to the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry’s latest disaster situation report on Aug. 2.
Caritas Rajshahi and Caritas Dinajpur, covering northern Bangladesh, have geared up to support flood victims.
Caritas Rajshahi intially selected 500 victims to offer food aid including rice, lentils, oil and salt worth about 1,500 taka and wrote to international donor agencies to allocate funds to support more victims.
“This year’s flooding is different in nature. It is not stable and it might be prolonged. It comes at the time of Covid-19 when physical distancing is important but difficult,” Caritas Rajshahi director Sukleash George Costa told UCA News.
Caritas staff and volunteers are in the field to assist people in getting pure drinking water and to advise on maintaining distance in flood shelters, he added.
Jogen Julian Besra, regional director of Caritas Dinajpur, lamented that the condition of people has worsened due to flooding.
“People have lost houses and now they are living under open skies. Many of them desperately need food and better shelter,” Besra told UCA News.
The Caritas national office has allocated 500,000 taka for emergency aid for victims that will be distributed this week, he said.
“We ask for help from the international community to save flood victims," Besra added.