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Cyclone Amphan: Concern responding to urgent needs in Bangladesh

Overview of camp in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Abir Abdullah/Concern Worldwide
Overview of camp in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Abir Abdullah/Concern Worldwide

International aid organisation Concern Worldwide is responding to urgent needs as one of the worst storms in decades makes landfall In Bangladesh today. 

Cyclone Amphan was gusting winds of up to 200km/h when it was 125km offshore. Around 15 million people have already been evacuated from their homes to safety. 

Concern’s teams are working closely with local authorities and partners to get information out to the 500,000 beneficiaries it works with in the coastal areas, advising them to get to storm shelters and to observe the necessary Covid-19 protocols in the process. 

“Our greatest concern is for the 13 million people living in the low-lying coastal areas, which will be the worst-affected. This is already one of the most poverty-stricken regions of Bangladesh. Many may lose their homes and livelihoods over the next 24 hours and, with limited support mechanisms because of coronavirus restrictions, they will become even more vulnerable. It will be a matter of survival for many,” said Concern’s Bangladesh Country Director Hasina Rahman. 

Already struggling

The storm will result in exceptionally heavy rain across the region, which will cause major disruption for the 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps in Cox’s Bazar. Although these camps are not directly in the cyclone’s track, it could not have come at a worse time for those living and working in the camps. Amphan is likely to result in landslides, which will cause chaos for the already-struggling refugees. 

“The local government and international NGOs in the coastal areas have been disinfecting communal spaces and providing additional shelters to enable people to observe social distancing, however many people were reluctant to use them and were holding off until the last minute to go into the cyclone shelters,” Ms Rahman said. 

“As soon as the cyclone passes, we will begin an assessment of the damage done and what people’s immediate and recovery needs are. This may include seeds and tools for replanting lost harvest or cash distributions if local markets are functioning. Much needed hygiene materials such as soap, detergent and clean water will also be distributed, as the risk of water-borne disease will be high along with possible further exposure to Covid-19 transmission.”

Many people living in the mud houses and thatched-houses in the hilly regions have been strongly-advised by authorities to leave, but, since they have nowhere else to go, they are deciding to remain in their homes, many of which are expected to collapse under the heavy rains.

Concern has been working in Bangladesh for 48 years. There are still roughly 40 million people living in poverty and 20 million extremely poor. Bangladesh’s geographical location, land characteristics, rivers and climate also make it very vulnerable to natural disasters. Many communities still have not recovered from Cyclone Fani, which hit in April 2019. 

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For media queries or to organise an interview with a Concern spokesperson, contact Hannah Myerson, Senior Communications Officer at [email protected] or 07971 859363.


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