UN grants $8.8 million to aid cyclone victims in Bangladesh
The United Nations has allocated $8.8 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support relief efforts in the wake of the deadly cyclone which struck Bangladesh last week, affecting more than 3 million people in the South Asian nation.
The grant from the landmark Fund, designed to make funds available quickly for relief operations, will enable several UN agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to immediately carry out emergency relief in the areas of food, shelter, water and sanitation, and agriculture.
“I hope this first allocation of CERF funds will enable some important and immediate life saving needs to be met. But I am well aware that much more is likely to be required both from the UN and other donors, and over a significant period – such is the scale of the disaster affecting so many people,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.
Citing government statistics, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that over 2,400 people are dead and nearly 1,500 missing after Cyclone Sidr, the second strongest of three major storms in recorded history to have struck Bangladesh, made landfall on 16 November. In addition, the storm is also responsible for the destruction of some 273,000 homes and over 760,000 acres of crops.
UN agencies are currently distributing 208 tonnes of high-energy biscuits to an estimated 850,000 people, while providing shelter materials to 18,000 households and water purification packets to about 48,000 families. A UN team is continuing to assess the damage and the needs in some of the worst affected districts.
Yesterday, WFP announced it is teaming up with Bangladesh’s Air Force to airdrop emergency food supplies to hundreds of thousands of people stranded in inaccessible areas of the country. The agency said today that all the affected areas are now accessible and some people are returning to their homes.
Meanwhile, UNICEF reports extensive damage to roads and schools, noting that almost 800 Government schools have been destroyed, and more than 4,000 have been partially destroyed. The agency, which is working with the Ministry of Education on addressing a number of issues, is currently asking for $2.3 million for its programmes focused on nutrition, water and sanitation, non-food items and child protection.