BOSTON — Oxfam America today launched a Bangladesh cyclone appeal for funds, calling on the public to support Oxfam’s response in the cyclone-stricken area.
The appeal comes as the scale of devastation and necessary relief effort becomes apparent. Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis are returning to their homes to find complete ruin: an estimated 273,000 homes have been lost, crops are damaged, and there are increasing water and sanitation concerns.
"The scale of this disaster is enormous," said Heather Blackwell, head of Oxfam in Bangladesh. "Up to three million people are affected. We are seeing families who have lost everything. We urgently need the public’s support to help us save and rebuild people's lives."
Oxfam has been working with local partners since Cyclone Sidr struck on Thursday, with teams in the worst-hit southern districts of Daerhat, Pirojpur, Barguna and Patuakhali assessing and providing urgent relief such as sanitation and food and water. The money raised will be used to continue to provide immediate relief to over 80,000 people - essential sanitation, food and water, shelter, well and latrine cleaning, and debris clearing, as well as helping people get back on their feet.
One of the world's poorest countries, Bangladesh has already faced huge damage from severe floods in July.
"People here are resilient," said Blackwell. "However, the scale is such that it will take months for people to be able to return to their normal lives. With an estimated 75 per cent of crops in the southern region destroyed, this disaster will require a long-term relief effort. Oxfam will be here working with our partners in months to come."
In addition to saving lives, Oxfam’s response intends to reduce risk for the future. The agency is concerned that with an increase in global warming, natural disasters such as the one that has hit Bangladesh are becoming more frequent.
"We have seen an unprecedented number of disasters this year and we have seen time and time again that the world's poorest people are being hit the hardest. The public have responded generously this year. We need them to dig deep again as we scale up our crucial work here."