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Church rushes to help flood victims in Bangladesh

The South Asian nation is reeling from the worst flooding in nearly 20 years

Caritas Bangladesh distributes dry food to flood victims in Mymensingh on June 19

Caritas Bangladesh distributes dry food to flood victims in Mymensingh on June 19. (Photo: Caritas Bangladesh)

Published: June 21, 2022 04:57 AM GMT

Updated: June 21, 2022 07:28 AM GMT

As Bangladesh reels from the worst flooding in nearly 20 years, Catholic agencies are lending a helping hand to thousands of flood victims.

Most areas of Sylhet district have been affected by flooding due to heavy rains over the last week and water coming down from upstream.

People in Sylhet and other districts in northeastern Bangladesh, which have been affected for the second time in a month, are unable to reach safe shelters and lack food and drinking water.

“More than 200,000 people have taken shelter at almost 500 shelters in the district but at least one million people are still stranded,” Mojibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Sylhet district, told UCA News.

“Communication with Sunamganj is cut off. The army, navy and air force are working alongside the local administration to rescue people stranded by the floodwaters. We are arranging the distribution of dry food for stranded people,” he said.

Samson Marak, a Catholic who has worked for 13 years with an NGO in Dharmapasha in Sunamganj district, is among those stranded.

“We bought a week’s supply of groceries but that has run out. There is no way to go to the market. A few stores are open but the price of goods has almost tripled"

He rents the ground floor of a building with his two children and wife but now lives on the second floor to escape the floodwater.

“We bought a week’s supply of groceries but that has run out. There is no way to go to the market. A few stores are open but the price of goods has almost tripled. There was some dry food but that has also run out,” Marak told UCA News.

Oblate Father Johnny Finney, the procurator of Sylhet Diocese, said about 2,000 Catholics out of 20,000 in the diocese lack food and drinking water.

“We are providing food, water and some basic medicines to affected people through the parish,” Father Finney told UCA News.

Caritas Sylhet has appealed for donations to support flood-affected people.

“We are helping some people with Caritas funds, but they need urgent financial support in addition to food,” said Abu Taher, junior program officer at Caritas Sylhet.

“Indigenous Catholic villages near the hills have been badly damaged. Some mud houses have collapsed, rice paddies have been ruined and crops have been damaged"

Caritas is helping about 20,000 Catholic families affected by flooding in Mymensingh Diocese.

“Indigenous Catholic villages near the hills have been badly damaged. Some mud houses have collapsed, rice paddies have been ruined and crops have been damaged,” Apurba Mrong, regional director of Caritas Mymensingh, told UCA News.

“We have so far provided dry food, candles and first aid to 500 families with our own funds and some staff help at the individual level, but it is not enough. We have called on international donors to stand by the flood victims.”

Meanwhile, schools, colleges and youth organizations run by the Church are raising funds for flood victims.

“We are trying to raise funds through eight Catholic dioceses and we have also made appeals online. So far we have received about 30,000 taka (US$322) but hopefully we will get more responses. We are doing what we can for the flood victims with what little we have,” said Swopnil Cruze, president of the Bangladesh Catholic Students Movement.

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