Kurigram, humanitarian emergency for millions of people affected by floods
Some 31 districts are affected. Food and drinking water are in short supply. Many residents have had to leave their flooded homes for makeshift shelters. Many have not received the 10 kilos of rice promised by the government. The Catholic Church is active in handing out supplies. Flood victims take on debt to eat.
Rajshahi (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh is facing a humanitarian emergency caused by flooding. About 10 million people in 31 districts are struggling with shortages of food and drinking water.
Some districts, like Kurigram in the country’s north, have been flooded for about a month, forcing many residents to abandon their homes or take refuge on tin roofs.
Flooding in Matikata submerged Nur Miha's home two weeks ago. He and his family were forced to leave, and find some shelter in a makeshift plastic shack. They now live in constant fear as monsoon rains fall relentlessly.
Nur’s main concern is the lack of food. "For two weeks,” he told AsiaNews, “we have been homeless and hungry.”
He says he has not yet received aid from the government although the authorities did promise to provide the 10 million people affected by the floods with 10 kilos of rice.
Some NGOs gave him and his family some supplies, but this is not enough. "What little we have received, we use it to feed our four children," Nur noted.
The Catholic Church is also providing assistance to flood victims. In Rajshahi, Caritas is considering how best to help the affected population.
Its director, Suklesh Costa, explains that food items like rice, oil, potatoes, etc. will be distributed to 600 families. The Diocese of Dinajpur will supply the same goods to around 1,200 households. The delivery will take place after the Eid al-Adha holiday, which is celebrated on 1st August.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made things even more difficult. “Due to the floods, we cannot go to work,” Nur explained. “We have spent all our savings. Plus, the coronavirus blocks the work of humanitarian agencies, which are unable to deliver aid.”
Rohima Begum’s story is a bit different. She and her family of six found refuge on a tin roof. The government provided them with 10 kilos of rice, but she had to borrow money to buy salt, oil, meat and other food items.
"We don't lack food,” she explained, “but we are worried about health, repaying the loan and the interest, and the risks associated with drinking water.”