OCHA Situation Report No. 3
Bangladesh - Cold Wave
24 January 2003
The following information was provided by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Bangladesh Meteorological Department,Oxfam GB Bangladesh, World Vision Bangladesh, the OCHA field officer in Delhi, as well as the media.
SITUATION AND RESPONSE
1. For more than a month, Bangladesh, Northern India and Nepal have been severely hit by a cold wave accompanied by dense fog, which, according to media reports, has killed at least 1,500 people across the region.
2. After a brief respite at the beginning of this week, the mercury has fallen again sharply in some areas. The Meteorological Department warns that the cold wave may persist until the end of January.
3. At least 23 more deaths were recorded between 23 and 24 January. The unofficial death toll is now estimated to lie between 550 and 700 persons. Medical services in the hardest hit regions are overwhelmed by the high volume of patients with cold-related illnesses, such as pneumonia and high fevers. As day labourers' employment has been interrupted by the cold for almost one month, many cannot afford to buy essential goods and food items.
4. IFRC is now entering the second phase of its relief operation comprising the allocation of a total of 12,000 blankets in northern and north-western regions of the country. In addition to 9,500 families targeted so far, 10,000 further households are to receive one blanket, 1 kg of high protein biscuits each, as well as warm clothing.
5. World Vision Bangladesh distributed a total of 6,000 blankets, funded by USAID, during the last week. Oxfam GB Bangladesh distributed 10,000 items of warm clothing in the north and north-western regions of the country, with preference given to vulnerable groups such as the disabled, pregnant women and the elderly.
6. WFP donated an additional 14 tons of high protein biscuits, to be distributed through the IFRC.
7. The Government of Bangladesh has not requested international assistance.
INDIA AND NEPAL
8. In the worst hit Indian States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at least 42 more deaths were reported between 23 January and 24 January, bringing the number of victims to more than 900. However considerable variations of temperature have been recorded in Uttar Pradesh. Cold weather now also affects Jammu and Kashmir, parts of Punjab and Haryana, in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Delhi.
9. In Bihar, the price of staple vegetables has reportedly risen in anticipation of the damaging effects of the cold on the harvest. According to media accounts, the cost of charcoal and firewoods in Uttar Pradesh has increased sharply, forcing the population in some areas to cut roadside trees for bonfires.
10. It is reported that the Government of Bihar has released USD 145,000 for the provision of blankets.
11. The Indian Red Cross in Bihar has distributed a total of 30,000 blankets and warm clothing. In addition, 7,000 blankets are to be handed out in West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
12. World Vision India and its partner agencies Emmanuel Health Association and Uttar Pradesh Mission, are supplying more than 100,000 people in Uttar Pradesh with blankets, food through soup kitchens, and firewood.
13. In both Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, public buildings are being used to provide nighttime shelter to the poor and homeless.
14. The death toll in Nepal has reportedly risen to at least 60, with most victims recorded in the districts of Banke and Bardia.
15. OCHA is in close contact with the Offices of the UN Resident Coordinators in Bangladesh and India and will revert with further information, as it becomes available.
16. This situation report, together with information on other ongoing emergencies, is available on the OCHA Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
In case of emergency only:
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(in GVA) - Ms. Elisabeth Byrs, Direct Tel: +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Direct Tel:+1 212 963 87 40
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