• A severe cyclonic storm, Fani, has begun to strike Bangladesh early hours of 4 May, bringing with it high winds and heavy rainfall. Over ten million people in the country are expected to be affected.
• Almost 1.3 million people have been evacuated to cyclone shelters across affected areas of western and southern Bangladesh.
• Government authorities are responding across affected divisions, mobilizing medical teams and supplies, protecting water sources and disseminating lifesaving information. National exams have been postponed, and schools have been closed, many of which are in use as cyclone shelters.
• UNICEF has pre-positioned emergency lifesaving supplies to meet the needs of up to 100,000 people in western areas of the country and Cox’s Bazar and contingency agreements with partners are ready to be activated to provide emergency WASH, nutrition, health, child protection and education services.
• The Needs Assessment Working Group will meet Government officials today to plan for use of the Joint Needs Assessment tool.
According to the Bangladesh Metrological Department, the severe cyclonic storm Fani has been moving north-northeast. As of 3 May the storm had weakened after making landfall in coastal Odisha in India. It has already reached Khulna, in southwestern Bangladesh, early morning on 4 May 2019 and is now moving northeastwards.
Over the coming day, low-lying areas of the coastal districts may be inundated by storm surges of up to 1.5m. In addition to coastal areas, non-coastal districts are also likely to be affected by heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding.
In the most affected division, Khulna, 531,000 people have been evacuated to 797 cyclone shelters, with five embankments reported as having been broken so far, resulting in the flooding of villages. Schools across the country have been closed, many of which are acting as cyclone shelters for their communities. Ten villages in Barisal Division have been inundated by a tidal wave already and people have moved to a cyclone shelter; across this Division, 684,340 people have moved to 1,774 cyclone shelters, particularly on islands and remote coastal areas. Meanwhile, in Rangpur and Rajshahi Divisions, the water level in the rivers is normal at present but expected to rise with heavy rainfall. Finally, 74,000 people have been taken to 3,453 cyclone centres in Chattogram Division. Three deaths have been reported due to winds and lightning in Chattogram Division. Winds of up to 50km/hour have been reported in locations.
As of the morning of 4 May, there has been minimal impact on Cox’s Bazar District of Chattogram Division, where over 900,000 Rohingya refugees are living in makeshift shelters, alongside a host community of 2.3 million.
An inter-ministerial coordination meeting chaired by the State Minister of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief was held on 2 May, with the participation of the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary, relevant secretaries from different Ministries, the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the Director General of Armed Forces Division. Authorities in Bangladesh have undertaken comprehensive preparations to minimize risks both to people and key infrastructure. This includes the Bangladesh Water Development Board monitoring embankments in cyclone-prone districts; the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare readying health teams and emergency medical supplies; and the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology working to maintain telecommunication networks across the country.
UNICEF is working closely with Divisional and District Level Government officials as well as Line Departments at the Sub-National Level, UN agencies, Humanitarian Clusters, and international and national NGO partners to support preparedness activities and is prepared to respond to the humanitarian situation throughout the country if required. In the two sub-districts hosting Rohingya refugees, any humanitarian response will be led by the Inter-Sector Coordination Group.