Bangladesh

One mln Bangladesh cyclone survivors await homes-Oxfam

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DHAKA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Over a million people are struggling without proper homes and at greater risk of disease than before, almost one year after cyclone Sidr ravaged parts of Bangladesh, Oxfam said on Wednesday.

Cyclone Sidr, the country's worst cyclone since 1991, ripped through over a dozen coastal districts on Nov. 15 last year, killing more than 3,300 people and displacing millions.

Despite funding pledges from foreign donors and non-governmental organisations to help build new homes for around 78,000 families, only about one-quarter of these planned homes, designed to be more resilient in future storms, have been built, said a new documentary, Our Home After Sidr, produced by Oxfam.

Funds have been trickling but not in the volumes expected, Bangladesh officials say. Oxfam said the situation was further aggravated as landless families living on government-owned land are excluded from receiving any government shelter support as they have no official land titles.

"People who have land deeds were given houses and those who don't were not. They had to make do with plastic sheeting they received after the disaster", one villager, Mussamat Halima, from Barguna district, said in the documentary.

"The sheets are now torn; people are living with ripped pieces of sheeting and broken tin. They are suffering."

The Oxfam documentary said another 276,000 families have had no reconstruction help and are living in shelters built from polythene sheets and salvaged materials.

In the last few years disaster-prone Bangladesh, one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries, has seen an increase in the intensity and frequency of climate-related problems.

The United Nations' Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that Bangladesh could lose nearly one-fifth of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming.

"Communities still need urgent help - both to recover from the impact of Sidr, and to be able to prepare for future possible storms, floods or cyclones", said Bangladesh-Oxfam country director, Heather Blackwell.

"Oxfam is calling for greater political and financial efforts to resolve the shelter crisis."

The Oxfam documentary, made in the last few months, will be officially released on Thursday.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Valerie Lee)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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