Bangladesh floods worsen leaving 1.5 million stranded

Monsoon rains threaten to overflow more rivers in Bangladesh

By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCA News

 

The overflowing of major rivers has worsened recent monsoon flooding in Bangladesh, with more than a million people stranded and desperately seeking aid in several parts of the country.

The swelling of 14 rivers due to heavy rain and a surge of water from upstream in India has flooded 15 districts in the north and central Bangladesh and affected about 1.5 million people, Qazi Tamsin Ara, deputy secretary of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry, told UCA News.

According to the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, some 23 districts could be hit by this second round of flooding, following last month’s inundation.

The government has distributed 3,811 metric tons of rice, 170 million taka (US$2 million) and 23,000 packets of dried food, as well as various other relief items to affected communities, she said.

The latest flooding has left tens of thousands trapped in their homes in flooded villages, while many more took shelter on higher ground, including along roads and highways.

Thousands of hectares of crops, mostly paddy, have been destroyed, local media reported.

In northern Kurigram district, one of the worst-hit areas, about 100,000 people have been left stranded by severe flooding, according to the National Disaster Response Coordination Center.

Minu Rani Das, 35, a flood victim from the Nageswari area of Kurigram, said her family had yet to receive government aid or help from charity organizations, four days after being hit by flooding.

“We fled our home four days ago after our house was inundated. We are nine members in the family, and we are struggling to survive with little food and no cash,” Das, a Hindu and mother of three, told UCA News.

She said her husband, Sontosh Chondro Das, 50, and eldest son, who’s 25, are cleaners at a local market, and loss of income due to the flooding has put the family into a desperate situation.

“I have visited the offices of two NGOs for help, but received nothing. Without food and cash aid, we will be starving soon,” she said.

Catholic charity Caritas in the Rajshahi and Dinajpur regions, which cover the northern part of Bangladesh, has been supporting several thousand flood-affected people with emergency food and cash aid since last month.

Caritas officials said, along with government offices, they have prepared a situation report, providing the number of affected people and the damages.

“Thousands of people have been affected in our areas, but we don’t have the capacity to support everyone. We will work with local governments and other charities to assist affected people. For now, we are offering emergency aid to about 1,000 people,” Uzzal Ekka, the disaster management officer at Caritas Dinajpur, told UCA News.

Bangladesh is on a low-lying river delta in South Asia crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, making it vulnerable to natural disasters like flooding.

Flooding kills hundreds, destroys crops, houses and livelihoods annually and is considered a major cause of poverty among a quarter of Bangladesh’s more than 160 million people.

Featured image: A woman cooks food on a raft made from a banana tree after a flood inundated her house in the Nageswari area of Kurigram district in northern Bangladesh. (Photo: Liton Das, UCAN)

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