The United Nations, Germany and different local and international organisations have allocated funds for conducting relief and rehabilitation activities among the cyclone-hit people.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the UN would make available $7 million from its central emergency fund.
“We will do everything whatever we can, subject to what the Bangladesh government would like us to do,” he told a press briefing in New York.
The UN is currently distributing 208 metric tonnes of high-energy biscuits, 240,000 water purification tablets, medicine, medical equipment and other essential goods, a statement said yesterday.
The UN along with the government would also launch a joint assessment of the damage and needs.
Asia-Pacific regional office of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has already set up a taskforce to deal with the situation after the cyclone. A team from the UN-OCHA also arrived in Dhaka yesterday.
The German government would provide five lakh euros in grant for the cyclone-hit people, reports UNB.
German Red Cross Society in association with Caritas, an international NGO, would distribute the amount, according to Press and Political Adviser to German Embassy in Dhaka Mujtaba Ahmed Morshed.
RED CRESCENT SOCIETY
Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BRCS) yesterday made an appeal to International Red Cross for four million Swiss francs (Tk 24.31 crore) for relief and rehabilitation works, according to UNB.
Devendra Tak, senior regional communications officer of Red Crescent, told the news agency that they are sending relief materials like saris, lungis, medicines, and water purifying tablets to 15 coastal districts.
He said 42,000 Red Crescent volunteers are working in the areas devastated by the Sidr.
Meanwhile, a BRCS press release said it would distribute relief worth Tk 10 lakh to the hurricane-hit people of southwestern districts.
Of the total, relief worth Tk 3 lakh will be distributed in Barguna, Tk 2.5 lakh in Patuakhali, Tk 1.5 lakh in Pirojpur, Tk 2 lakh in Bagerhat and Tk 1 lakh in Khulna.
Brac, a leading local NGO, has initially made a commitment to spend Tk 7 crore from its own fund to provide relief to the Sidr victims, a press release said.
It added the NGO hopes to mobilize an additional Tk 7 crore for relief and is planning extensive housing rehabilitation operations to follow the emergency relief work.
According to the release, more than 2,500 Brac staffs have already been deployed to perform round-the-clock relief activities in 11 worst affected districts that include Barguna, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Bhola, Barisal, Jhalakathi, Khulna, Gopalganj, Shariatpur and Madaripur.
Brac is also providing Tk 500 to each household that was destroyed.
Ten medical teams are also working in the districts to provide emergency medical care.
SWISS CHURCH CHARITY
According to AFP, a Swiss church charity yesterday donated 200,000 Swiss francs (121,000 euros) to help Sidr victims.
The aid will pay for the transportation of food parcels, drinking water, medical and hygiene supplies to those stricken by the cyclone.
The donation comes from the EPER, the aid agency of the Swiss Protestant Churches.
At an emergency meeting yesterday the private commercial bank decided to donate Tk 1 crore to the chief adviser’s relief fund to supply house building materials and other life saving relief goods to the victims.
A press statement of the US Mission in Bangladesh said it has pre-positioned sixteen Zodiac boats and mobilized six water treatment systems and water ambulances to use for emergency operations.
“With partners CARE and Save the Children, 30,000 emergency survival packages were pre-positioned in areas facing the oncoming cyclone and food commodities were ready for emergency response,” it added.
UN, US, UK EXTEND HELP
The United States, United Nations and the British government have expressed deep sympathy for the victims of the cyclone Sidr that hit Bangladesh late Thursday night and have extended their help towards immediate relief for the victims of the disaster.
They also extended their cooperation to work with the government and other foreign donors to assist Bangladesh to mitigate the suffering of the cyclone-hit people and to expedite rescue and relief operations, report our diplomatic correspondent.
In a press statement issued yesterday in Washington, US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack expressed his deepest sympathy for the victims of the cyclone adding that the US was ready to cooperate with relief efforts.
McCormack said that the US Mission in Bangladesh had already taken advance steps to face relief work when the storm started over the Bay of Bengal. He said ten water ambulances and 16 zodiac boats had been made available for immediate emergency operations. Six water treatments systems were also made available.
With partners CARE and Save the Children the US Mission also made 30,000 Emergency Survival Packages and other food commodities available in areas facing the wrath of the cyclone for immediate emergency response.
The US State Department has meanwhile asked the US Embassy in Dhaka to send an assessment report based on which the US government will decide what type of assistance is required.
The press statement added that the Deputy Chief of Mission of Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC Sheikh Mohammad Belal has been called to the State Department to assure him of the US government’s assistance to Bangladesh.
The British Minister for Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Malloch Brown in a letter to Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Adviser on Friday said “I was greatly saddened to hear of the destruction wrought on Bangladesh by Cyclone Sidr”. He said that that Britain has already extended their immediate support for relief efforts through the UN and stand ready to provide more assistance as and when required.
The OIC secretary general Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed his deep shock and distress at the loss of lives and destruction caused by cyclone Sidr. In a statement the OIC chief praised the Bangladesh government for its quick and effective handling of the preliminary situation.
Meanwhile, Co-Chairman of Bangladesh caucus in US Congress, Joseph Crowley, has appealed to the US government and international community to extend all-out assistance to the cyclone hit people of Bangladesh.
In New York, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the UN would make available “several million dollars” for Bangladesh from the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), which was set up to expedite aid operations for emergencies.
“We will do all that we can to help, subject to what the Government of Bangladesh would like us to do,” he told a press briefing on Friday.
The UN launches a joint assessment of the damage and needs with the Bangladesh government, while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for Asia-Pacific has set up a task force to deal with the cyclone. The team arrives in Dhaka tomorrow, he said.
Holmes said that though the death toll was not clear yet but he expects the damage to livelihoods, housing and crops to be severe.
Meanwhile the US embassy in Bangladesh has assured the government that the US government is prepared to provide immediate assistant to Bangladesh to respond to the relief and rehabilitation needs in the aftermath of the cyclone.
“We are mobilising our civilian disaster response mechanism through USAID’s office of Foreign Disaster Assistance,” a US Embassy spokesperson in Dhaka said yesterday.
Since 1987, the US government has provided some 221 million US dollars for emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance to Bangladesh in response to major floods, a catastrophic cyclone in 1991 and two devastating tornados.
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