Bangladesh + 2 more

ACT update South Asia 01/2003: Cold spell - ACT members work hard at beating the cold

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Geneva, 31 January 2003 - As the death toll from a month-long cold spell continues to rise across South Asia, Action by Churches Together (ACT) International members are distributing blankets, wrappers and warm children's clothing to the most vulnerable in the region.
Since mid-December, Bangladesh, Northern India and Nepal have been hit by a cold spell accompanied by dense fog, which, according to local media reports, has killed at least 1,800 people across the region with India recording the highest numbers of fatalities. Normally winters are short and mild in South Asia, but the unseasonably long cold weather caught millions of poor people living in flimsy unheated shelters unprepared. Although not cold by the standards of many other places, the drop in temperature can have a devastating effect on the hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the three countries. Meanwhile, local newspapers are reporting a rise in temperature across the region which is beginning to ease the situation.

Bangladesh: In response to the cold spell, the ACT Partners in Bangladesh - Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB), Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), Church of Bangladesh (CoB), Social Health & Education Development (SHED) Board and Koinoinia -issued a joint Rapid Response Funds (RRF) appeal for the amount of US$49 900 (jointly received) to provide additional emergency assistance in the form of blankets, wrappers and warm clothing to10,000 families. Those who will benefit are poor families and destitute people mainly in the north, north-western and central parts of the country.

Nepal: ACT member Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Nepal is assisting 6,000 liberated Kamaiya families (former bonded labourers) in Kailali district who are living in eight different camps, by providing them with blankets. Special attention will be given to the elderly, widows, children and the disabled. An RRF amounting to US$ 39, 900 has already been transferred to LWF/Nepal Programme.

India: ACT members in India - Lutheran World Service (LWS) and Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) have been providing emergency relief in the worst hit areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Kolkata. The partners did not request any funds, but are using their own resources to provide assistance to people living in impoverished areas, orphanages, hostels, hospitals and homes for the elderly by distributing woolen blankets.

ACT CO has already received contributions/pledges earmarked toward these RRFs amounting to USD 53,611. Any further contributions to replenish the RRF of USD 89,700 are highly appreciated.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone ++41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone ++ 41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.