Cyclone Amphan: Concern responding to urgent needs in Bangladesh

Hakim Para camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Hakim Para camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Kieran McConville.

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

Cyclone Amphan was bringing gusts of up to 200km/h when it was 125km offshore. Around 15 million people in Bangladesh have already been evacuated from their homes.

Concern’s teams are working to get information out to the 500,000 beneficiaries it works with in the coastal areas to get them 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 their livelihoods over the next 24 hours and, with limited support mechanisms because of COVID 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 900k Rohingya refugees living in camps in the city of Cox’s Bazar. Although these camps will not be directly in the cyclone’s track, Amphan is likely to result in landslides, which will cause chaos for the already-struggling refugees.

The cyclone could not have come at a worse time for these refugees, who are also working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their camps.

“As soon as the cyclone passes, we will begin an assessment of the damage done and what people’s needs are. This may include cash distributions if local markets are functioning and the distribution of soap and detergent, as the risk of water-borne disease will be high,” Ms Rahman said.

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, are remaining in their homes, many of which are expected to collapse under the heavy rains.

“Although the government and NGOs worked to disinfect shelters and to provide additional shelters to enable people to observe social distancing, many people were reluctant to use them and were holding off until the last minute,” Ms Rahman said.

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.

To support Concern’s work visit www.concern.net.

ENDS

For media queries or to organise an interview with a Concern spokesperson, contact Eamon Timmins Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at Eamon.Timmins@concern.net or 087 9880524.

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