Thousands of Flood-Hit Bangladeshis Sheltering on Riverbanks

By Thomson Reuters Foundation 26 August 2015

LONDON — Floods, landslides and a cyclone have made at least 180,000 people in Bangladesh homeless, with thousands living in makeshift shelters on riverbanks, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Tuesday.

More than 1.5 million people have been hit by disasters which destroyed around 30,000 homes, the IFRC said as it launched an appeal for US$909,000.

“Many families with young children and the elderly have been left homeless. They are living in makeshift shelters on embankments and river banks,” Simon Missiri, head of the IFRC’s South Asia regional delegation, said in a statement.

“For well over a month people’s coping mechanisms have been worn down by successive waves of flooding. Cyclone Komen made a bad situation even worse. There are high levels of vulnerability in these communities which must not be neglected,” he added.

The floods, which began at the end of June, inundated hundreds of villages in disaster-prone Bangladesh and left more than 200,000 people stranded in Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Bandarban—three districts in the southeast.

A month later Cyclone Komen made landfall, causing further damage.

Rosemarie North, IFRC’s New Delhi-based communications and advocacy manager, said the immediate priorities were making sure people had food, shelter, clean water and sanitation.

“The floods, landslides and tropical Cyclone Komen did a lot of damage to agricultural land, salt production, shrimp farming and fishing,” North told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

As a result many people, working as day labourers in those sectors, had lost their income. An added problem was food not getting through to markets as normal because of the damage done to roads, she said.

The IFRC said a portion of its emergency appeal to help 32,500 people in coastal districts would be spent on providing cash grants for people to buy food and basic items.