UN releases another $6 million in emergency funds for cyclone-hit Bangladesh

UN releases another $6 million in emergency funds for cyclone-hit Bangladesh

The United Nations today announced that it would disburse an additional $6 million to support relief efforts for hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors in Bangladesh, as UN agencies continued rushing aid to the affected population.

The new disbursement comes atop $9 million already granted by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) after the disaster hit on 15 November, said the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, today reported that a recent mission to the hardest-hit areas in Bangladesh showed that damage was worse than expected.

“The cyclone has predisposed thousands of children and women to the increased risk of illness and death due to malnutrition,” said Dr. Iyorlumun Uhaa, Chief of Health and Nutrition for UNICEF Bangladesh. “Of the estimated 5 million people affected, half are children and one eighth or 600,000 are under the age of five. The cold weather and vulnerability to cold, hunger, trauma, diarrhoea and other communicable diseases will increase many times over unless urgent life-saving assistance is provided to children and women immediately.”

The agency is procuring 100,000 blankets, 60,000 articles of children’s clothes, 60,000 family kits, and 60,000 plastic sheets for use in cyclone-stricken areas, and has moved two mobile water treatment plants to hard-hit districts.

UNICEF is also working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify separated, unaccompanied and distressed children who are being registered with the local government authorities.

“Separated and unaccompanied children are living without care, security and support facilities,” said Aissa Sow, UNICEF Child Protection Officer. These children are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. In other cases, it is hard for the affected families that lost everything to adequately care for children.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing to distribute food, including high-energy biscuits, by helicopters, boats and trucks. A second distribution to 465,000 survivors has taken place, and WFP will now start distributing 750 tons of rice to more than 2 million people.

“WFP is working very closely with the Bangladesh Air Force to ensure ready-to-eat foods get to those people who need our help the most,” said Douglas Broderick, WFP Country Representative.

“In addition to high energy biscuits which continue to be air-delivered by Air Force helicopters, today we have begun the road and boat transport of 750 tons of rice for the five worst-affected districts.”

Following the present and continuing distribution of dry, ready-to-eat foods to hundreds of thousands of Cyclone victims, WFP will provide longer term monthly food rations including rice, lentils and oil to more than 2.3 million persons in the nine worst affected districts in Southern and coastal Bangladesh.

“From the biscuits to the rice to more balanced food rations for entire families, we are working urgently to provide the critical food assistance needed by the most vulnerable people living in the Cyclone-hit areas,” said Mr. Broderick.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to prepare a needs assessment of emergency drugs that would be required for the next six months, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established an emergency coordination and rehabilitation unit in Bangladesh, where agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors in the southern part of the country have suffered enormous losses.