Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cyclone Sidr - 1 year on

Today is the one year anniversary of Cyclone Sidr, which hit Bangladesh on November 15, 2007, killing more than 3,000 people and leaving millions homeless.

Low-lying Bangladesh is often prone to weather-related disasters, like cyclones. But in recent years, due to climatic changes, the intensity, ferocity and unpredictability of weather disasters have increased.

While there has been substantial international and governmental help for those affected by the disaster, more than 1/4 million families are still without proper shelter - many living in shacks with plastic sheeting or tin to protect them against the elements.

Oxfam released a documentary, Our Home after Sidr, highlighting some of the serious problems facing those affected by the cyclone.

People like Mussamat Shaheeda, from South Hajar Bigha, Barguna district. She lost her 8 year old son and daughter, just a few months old, in the cyclone. At a news conference, she tearfully told her audience that she was still without any proper housing.

A senior government official attending the launch has said there needed to be greater efforts and coordination between the goverment and donors to help those still in need.

“We accept there is a need for additional assistance for rebuilding their houses”, said K.H. Masud Siddiqui, Director General of the Disaster Management Bureau, which is in charge of overseeing the response to emergencies in Bangladesh.

He said government officials were currently assessing the Cyclone-affected areas to identify gaps.

There are concern for families in the south-west who face a second winter without safe homes - who remain highly vulnerable to ill health, malnutrition and future disasters.

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