22 May 2016 - Christian Aid has released an initial £25,000 of emergency funds for families badly affected by Cyclone Roanu, which hit Bangladesh on Saturday and forced 500,000 people to flee their homes.
Torrential rains, floods and landslides triggered by the cyclone killed 21 people, left over 200 injured and damaged nearly 85,000 homes in southern coastal regions, after authorities had evacuated half a million individuals to temporary shelters.
With the full scale of the devastation still to emerge, badly-hit communities urgently need shelter, clean water, food rations, sanitation supplies and other emergency relief items, Christian Aid has said.
Christian Aid's local team in Bangladesh has joined forces with other agencies in two of the worst-affected areas, Cox's Bazar and Chittagong, to assess the cyclone's impact and coordinate their humanitarian response.
Christian Aid's Country Manager for Bangladesh, Shakeb Nabi, based in Dhaka, said: "The cyclone that battered Bangladesh's coastline yesterday has destroyed homes, jeopardised people's livelihoods and caused severe damage in many places. We stand in solidarity with all those who are suffering as a result of this disaster.
"We commend the government's swift action in evacuating half a million people from their homes - a move that undoubtedly helped to save many lives. However, the cyclone's impact has been substantial, and official sources suggest a million people altogether have been affected.
"We are particularly concerned about the welfare of children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those living in hard-to-reach areas, such as the island communities.
"Access to food, safe drinking water, health supplies and sanitation materials is limited in some villages. Water points have been ruined, ground water contaminated and agricultural land destroyed.
"Tens of thousands of poor families will have lost most of their assets: not just their houses, but also their food stores, seasonal crops and vital livestock such as cows, goats and ducks. Large numbers of fisherfolk have seen their nets and boats lost or damaged."
Mr Nabi continued: "Some families in cyclone-hit areas were already struggling to rebuild their lives after last year's flood. Now, without access to cash and a means of making an income, we fear their options will be limited. Moreover, as monsoon season approaches, communities will urgently need support to rebuild their businesses, repair submerged homes and feed their families. They face incredible challenges ahead.
"Christian Aid will work alongside our experienced local partners here in Bangladesh to provide emergency relief in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, the cyclone highlights why it's so important to invest in helping poor communities reduce their vulnerability to hazards and crises.
"We are committed to continue helping people in Bangladesh become more resilient to extreme climate uncertainties, natural disasters and emergencies."
Bangladesh has been the focal country for this year's Christian Aid Week (15-21 May), which ended yesterday, and which has seen thousands of churches in the UK and Ireland fundraising for the charity over the past seven days.
Funds raised will help Christian Aid as it seeks to provide a safe place to call home for people living in places such as Bangladesh, which is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. Efforts to fight poverty in the low-lying country have become even more difficult due to the impacts of climate change – extreme temperatures, erratic rainfall, and an increasing number of floods, cyclones and droughts.
In a new report published last Monday, Act Now Or Pay Later, Christian Aid revealed that more than a billion people are set to be exposed to coastal flooding by 2060 through a combination of sea level rise, storm surges and extreme weather, with Bangladesh's population among the most vulnerable.
Published ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit, which begins in Istanbul tomorrow, the Christian Aid report highlights the need for donors and NGOs to invest more resources in reducing the risk of future disasters, so that communities are better prepared before a crisis hits.
At the summit, Christian Aid will pledge that 10% of money raised for each major humanitarian appeal will be invested in disaster risk reduction.
The charity is also urging countries to put more power into the hands of the local organisations often on the front line of any emergency response: it is calling for 20% of global humanitarian funding to go directly to local responders by 2018.
For more information contact Tomilola Ajayi on firstname.lastname@example.org. The 24-hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
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5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk