Cyclone Amphan hits Bangladesh: we are on the ground

Over view of Kutupalong camp, Ukhiya. Photo: Abir Abdullah
Over view of Kutupalong camp, Ukhiya. Photo: Abir Abdullah

One of the worst storms in decades has made landfall in Bangladesh, bringing with it ferocious winds and the threat of deadly storm surges and severe flooding. The first deaths from the cyclone have already been reported – but how could this affect Concern’s work in the country?

Concern has been working in Bangladesh for 48 years, where around 40 million people are living in poverty. The country’s geographical location, land characteristics and climate make it extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, including typhoons, tornadoes and most recently Cyclone Fani in 2019.

For almost five decades we’ve been working to combat suffering and build resilience among the most vulnerable communities in Bangladesh, establishing programmes to help reduce poverty, respond to emergencies and improve health and nutrition. More recently, we extended this work to help Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar in 2017 to Cox’s Bazar, currently the world’s largest refugee camp.

Volunteer disinfecting a nutrition centre in a Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Volunteer disinfecting a nutrition centre in a Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Concern Bangladesh have implemented new measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Firoz Mahmud
Concern have implemented new measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Photo: Firoz Mahmud
Hamida* receiving Nutritional Supplement for her malnourished child from a Concern supported Nutrition site, Cox’s Bazar.
Hamida* receiving Nutritional Supplement for her malnourished child from a Concern supported Nutrition site, Cox’s Bazar.

Fears for the safety of millions

Although Cox’s Bazar is not in the predicted path of the cyclone, there are fears for the safety of almost a million Rohingya refugees, many of whom are living in tents or flimsy huts. The first coronavirus cases were reported in Cox’s Bazar last week, and there are now six confirmed cases.

The Concern team in Bangladesh has been responding on the ground to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 across the country, distributing food, providing gloves and masks, increasing awareness campaigns on hygiene promotion and distributing information leaflets about the virus to vulnerable communities.

Cyclone Amphan could have catastrophic consequences for those we help, particularly in Cox’s Bazar. It brings with it the potential of destroying homes and increasing the likelihood of the virus spreading, alongside water-borne diseases.

We are keeping a close eye on the situation and will begin to assess people’s immediate needs and the damage done as soon as it has passed. This is likely to include seeds for replanting lost harvest, cash distributions and hygiene materials such as soap, detergent and clean water.

If you’d like to help us continue to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh, please donate to our Coronavirus Emergency Appeal

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