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Flooding leaves thousands marooned in Bangladesh

Caritas set to provide relief as monsoon rain destroys crops and leaves dozens of villages inundated

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Flooding leaves thousands marooned in Bangladesh

Rural women wade through an inundated road during flooding in Jessore district of Bangladesh in this file photo. Thousands of people have been stranded by monsoon flooding in the country. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

Torrential monsoon rain and an onrush of water from upstream India have flooded vast areas in northern and eastern parts of Bangladesh, leaving dozens of villages inundated and thousands of people marooned.

People in 11 districts have been affected by flooding and the situation will worsen in the coming days, leading to inundation of 20 districts, according to the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center.

Most major rivers in the north and northeast have been flowing above danger levels and the situation is unlikely to improve soon, it warned.

Flooding has left at least 500,000 people marooned including 150,000 in Kurigram district and 50,000 in Sirajganj district, according to the Disaster Management Department.

Media reports showed flood victims, most rural poor people, stranded in their inundated houses and many attempting to move to higher places with boats.

Crops, mostly paddy, on thousands of hectares of inundated land have been destroyed, the Agricultural Extension department reported.

The government has initiated flood response measures and district administrations have been allocated with cash and food aid for emergency relief, Kamrun Nahar, officer in-charge of the emergency response center at the Disaster Management Department, said on June 28.

Officials at Catholic charity Caritas Dinajpur fear flooding will worsen the suffering of people already reeling due to loss of work and income from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have been engaged in supporting people affected by the pandemic, now we will look into people affected by flooding,” said Jogen Julian Besra, regional director of Caritas Dinajpur, which covers parts of northern Bangladesh, told UCA News.

Caritas has collected situational assessment reports from field offices and sent them to donor agencies for emergency funds.

“We are waiting for the government’s official damage assessment report to start emergency relief including food and cash for affected people,” Besra added. 

Sukleash George Costa, regional director of Caritas Rajshahi, noted that the districts of Sirajganj and Bogra have been affected by the swelling of the Jamuna, one of the country's largest rivers.

“We are ready with a flood response for victims and waiting for the government to declare those areas flood-affected officially, which will allow us to start relief operations. Caritas will support the victims by itself and collaborate with government agencies as required,” Costa told UCA News.

Devastating monsoon flooding is a common natural disaster in low-lying river-delta Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by about 300 rivers. About 54 rivers are transboundary and flow between India and Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, flooding kills hundreds and destroys houses, crops and livelihoods of tens of thousands every year. Flooding is one of the main reasons of poverty among one quarter of the country's more than 160 million people, the World Bank says. 

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