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DHAKA, BANGLADESH — Tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh urgently need food and shelter after a cyclone hit the country on Thursday night, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
The massive loss and damage to crops—estimated at between fifty and ninety-five per cent in coastal zones—will have immediate and long-term devastating effects on the country.
Bangladesh already lost crops in northern and central areas after severe floods in July. Oxfam fears the combined impact of these two disasters on one of the world’s poorest countries could be massive.
The cyclone damaged power and communications networks, killed livestock, and caused tidal surges that swept away scores of people.
Oxfam assessment teams have found people are returning to their homes from the evacuation shelters, only to find their houses are devastated. They have been assembling makeshift housing from the debris or sleeping in the open air.
Oxfam, through our Bangladeshi partner organizations, has started delivering aid in some of the worst-affected districts in southern Bangladesh. Our assessments show immediate needs are dry food, shelter, clothes, and water and sanitation facilities.
Heather Blackwell, head of Oxfam in Bangladesh, said, “There are many villages in remote areas, including on sandbank islands, that are yet to be reached. We don’t know the losses sustained in those regions. It could take weeks before we know exactly how bad this cyclone was.
“Access to the areas hit by the cyclone is very difficult: a car journey that normally takes five hours took an Oxfam team a day and a half to do because of debris and road damage.
“The last time a cyclone this strong hit Bangladesh, in 1991, over 138,000 people were killed. Since then the government, aid agencies, and local organizations have worked hard to help people prepare for disasters, and this is reflected in the much lower death toll.
“Scientists have predicted that extreme weather events like this cyclone are going to become more common due to global warming. The world’s poorest people—such as those living in Bangladesh—will be hit the hardest. It’s vital that the rich world take steps to reduce its carbon emissions and provide money to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change.”