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October 06 2000

Caritas Bangladesh is appealing for support to help some 12 million people affected by floods here.

"We need further generous support from our partners to implement programs for the cause of distressed humanity," Alo Benedict D´Rozario, director of disaster management of Caritas Bangladesh, told UCA News recently.

According to him, people are suffering in areas that had not been affected by floods in the last 60 years. As such, they were not prepared, he said. "But water rushed into these areas so quickly that almost nobody could save their belongings," he explained.

Rozario said that Caritas is seeking almost US$1 million for relief and rehabilitation projects.

So far US$130,000 has been pledged by partner agencies abroad including Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Hong Kong, Caritas Germany, Caritas Japan and Misereor, the German Catholic bishops´ development aid agency, he said.

A Caritas report said that the "unusual" floods that engulfed nine districts in western Bangladesh have wreaked havoc on life and property.

The flood, according to the report, has claimed over 100 lives as of Oct. 3.

About a million people have taken shelter in schools, government offices, mosques, churches and flood centers, and about 40,000 people were waiting to be rescued in flooded areas, according to the Caritas report.

Their main needs are food, medicine, drinking water and firewood.

"Diarrhea has broken out in the affected areas. The main necessity at the hour is supply of dry or cooked food, pure drinking water, oral saline and water purifiers," the report said.

It also stated that airlift of foodstuffs to marooned people in remote areas is an utmost necessity and noted that this has already started.

Rozario said that the damage caused by the rising flood waters is immense. He cited destruction of hundreds of thousands of mud-and-straw houses, standing crops, roads, bridges, educational institutions and trees.

About 12 million people have been affected in Sathkhira, Jessore, Jhenidaha, Magura, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Kushtia, Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabganj districts.

According to local media, the floods were aggravated by the opening of dams in five rivers across the Indian border.