Food crisis hits Bangladeshi hill tribal people

Thousands left with little to eat after crop failures, Caritas says
Food crisis hits Bangladeshi hill tribal people

Indigenous tribal farmers sell their produce in Thanchi, in Bangladesh's Bandarban district in this 2014 photo. Hundreds of tribal people in Thanchi are suffering from a severe food shortage. ( photo by Stephan Uttom) reporters, Dhaka
May 30, 2016
The Catholic charity Caritas is looking to help thousands of indigenous tribal families in southern Bangladesh facing starvation because of an acute food shortage in the area caused by poor harvests.

At least 2,500 families from indigenous tribal Mro, Khumi, Marma and Tripura communities were affected in more than a dozen remote villages in Bandarban district, according to local media reports.

These people have been short of food for the past two months, the reports said.

The crisis stems from poor crop yields due to bad weather including heavy rain.

Insects, rats and wild boars have also destroyed a large portion of the crops, the reports said.

"We have sent volunteers to assess the situation. We will assist them according to their needs, as much as we can,"  said James Gomes, regional director of Caritas Chittagong that covers Bandarban.

In addition to rice supplies, people also need other food items like dry fish and daily essentials, Gomes told

Indigenous tribal women walk with their children in Thanchi, in Bandarban district of Bangladeshin this 2014 photo. Hundreds of tribal people in Thanchi are suffering from severe food shortages. ( photo bt Stephan Uttom)


Local people in the area said they have been forced to ration food because of the acute shortage.

"My family has been half-fed for weeks. Sometimes we eat jungle potatoes … sometimes we starve. The situation has been like this for the last two months," Rui Mon Mro, 80, a tribal Mro woman told The Daily Star newspaper.

"Now, we don't have any food left to survive," she said.

Rui and her family live in Yon Nong Karbabri Para village, in Thanchi sub district.

The area is cut off from road network and people need to take a three to four hour boat journey to reach the nearest market town.

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Local government officials said they are trying to lend affected areas assistance but face immense difficulties due to their remote location.

"We have provided 16 metric tons of rice for affected villagers, and an additional 30 metric tons will reach them by May 29," Anwar Hossain, chief government officer in Thanchi told

"We hare having difficulties in transporting aid, so it's taking some time to reach them," he said.

He said the affected area suffers from extreme weather patterns — high temperatures during summer and heavy rain and flooding during the monsoon, which damages crops.

Officials say in addition to rice other aid such as medicines will also be provided.



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