Red Cross Red Crescent Launches Urgent Appeal in Wake of Bangladesh Cyclone
With Cyclone Sidr’s reported death toll now climbing above 500, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for 4 million Swiss francs ($3.6 million US/ ˆ2.4 million) to assist 235,000 people affected by the devastating storm.
Sidr hit the coast of Bangladesh last night (15 November) at 6:45 PM local time and reached the capital Dhaka in the early hours of this morning. Although the storm has now weakened, it has left a trail of unimaginable destruction in its wake. Local authorities are reporting that at least 500 people have been confirmed dead, with thousands of others injured or missing. There are also reports that 150 fishing trawlers and their crews are still unaccounted for, having failed to return to shore before the storm hit.
Thousands of homes were ripped apart by ferocious winds, and tracts of farmland have been severely damaged
“The first priority is to distribute food and other relief items, to provide emergency shelter, and to ensure that people have access to basic health care, and clean water,” explained the Devendra Tak, the International Federation’s communications officer in Delhi who is preparing to leave for Dhaka. “In the longer-term needs are likely to include psycho-social support, shelter rehabilitation, restoration of water and sanitation facilities, as well as livelihoods provision and support.”
Since Wednesday (14 November), about 40,000 Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers have been mobilized to help alert and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people as the cyclone approached, and volunteers are also helping to distribute relief items, provide first aid and help with search and rescue.
“The work that the Red Cross Red Crescent, the government and other humanitarian organizations have done to have resources in place, and to mobilize effective early warning systems and cyclone shelters means that the casualties are lower than we feared,” said Christine South, the International Federation’s emergency response coordinator for Asia Pacific. “But this doesn’t mean the devastation is not on a very large scale.”
Earlier today, seven teams comprising members from the Bangladesh Red Crescent and the International Federation were deployed to carry out rapid assessments of the damage. Rescue teams and additional medical mobile teams are also on standby to take appropriate action when needed. xxxxThe International Federation in Geneva has already released 250,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support Bangladesh Red Crescent relief operations.
For more information visit www.ifrc.org.