UNESCO heritage assessment mission to head to Bangladesh after cyclone
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that it is sending a mission of experts next week to Bangladesh to assess how to help local authorities protect the country’s heritage in the wake of this month’s devastating cyclone.
The mission will focus particularly on the Sundarbans mangrove forest, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997, the agency said in a press statement issued at its Paris headquarters. The 140,000-hectare forest is home to many endangered species, including the Bengal tiger.
Large swathes of the Sundarbans, which lies in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal, are feared to have been swept into the sea by Cyclone Sidr, which struck Bangladesh on 15 November, bringing torrential rain and winds of up to 240 kilometres per hour.
More than 3,200 were confirmed killed and another 880 remain missing as a result of Cyclone Sidr, while almost 35,000 people were injured. The category 4 storm also destroyed or badly damaged infrastructure – including at least 1,300 schools – across much of the country. More than 7,500 other schools and educational institutions were partly damaged, according to local data, and at least 1.8 million acres of crops were ruined and over 500,000 livestock have died.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that an estimated 2.6 million people still need immediate life-saving assistance, such as food, shelter and sanitation.
UN relief agencies, which are providing assistance with the help of national authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are drawing from a grant of $14.7 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). So far more than $130 million has been contributed or offered as pledges to fund the international response to the cyclone.