Thousands displaced by floods in need of food and shelter

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Since mid-July torrential monsoon rains coupled with a depression in the Bay of Bengal has caused devastating flash floods across the Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh. The floods have caused ten deaths, left 30,000 people marooned and forced over 150,000 people from their homes. Many of them are taking refuge in cyclone shelters, schools as well as along main roads with their livestock in tow. Among the 10 people found dead was an eight-year old girl who was taking shelter with her family at the Kutupalong camp. The makeshift shelter that she was in was swept away by a massive landslide.

Mohammad Ali, a 52-year old farmer from Charparaof Fotekharkul Union of Ramu Upazila in Cox’s Bazar district describes the flooding as some of the worst he has witnessed in 15 years.

“The water was ten feet higher from the river’s normal level. When the rain started, I did not realize that the water would go up to that level and destroy my entire house,” he said.

The floods have disrupted livelihoods, bringing added misery to those living under the poverty line. Daily wage earners such as rickshaw pullers and agricultural labourers, who were already struggling to earn enough for their daily food needs, have not been able to work. For people living in the worst affected villages, it is unlikely that their lives will return to normal or that they will be able to rebuild their houses without external assistance.

Living conditions will worsen even as the floodwaters start to recede, leaving women, children and the elderly at high risk of waterborne disease. Ali and his family of six had to leave their collapsed home and take shelter in their relative’s house. Ali’s crops have also been destroyed by the flash floods. Having exhausted his savings he will not be able to cultivate his land again this year this year and will need help to rebuild his home. Ali is now desperately searching for any job that will allow him to feed his big family for the rest of the year.

Like other most affected families, Ali has been registered to receive food and relief assistance from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. 50 Red Crescent volunteers worked with local government agencies in the search and rescue of those stranded by the floods. The Cox Bazar’s Red Crescent district unit volunteers also distributed clothes to affected families. The IFRC has allocated CHF 262,770 (USD 320,870 or EUR 223,470) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society deliver immediate assistance to some 25,000 people affected by floods.

The situation in Bangladesh is not expected to worsen as heavy rainfall has been forecast across the county and the water level in many of the rivers have already risen to a dangerous point.