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Donors pledge over US$120 million in aid to cyclone victims

A cyclone-devastated home in Shoronkhola sub-district, Bagerhat district, southern Bangladesh, November 2007. Thousands of people were killed when Cyclone Sidr ripped through the area.
A cyclone-devastated home in Shoronkhola sub-district, Bagerhat district, southern Bangladesh, November 2007. Thousands of people were killed when Cyclone Sidr ripped through the area. (Tanvir Ahmed/IRIN)

The international community has pledged over US$120 million in relief and rehabilitation assistance to victims of Cyclone Sidr, the Bangladesh government has confirmed.

Speaking to the press on 19 November, Food and Disaster Management Adviser Tapan Chowdhury told reporters that Saudi Arabia would provide $100 million in cyclone-relief, while Japan, the UK, the USA, India, China, Australia, and Switzerland have also given assurances they will help.

The Saudi government will also send 300 metric tonnes (mt) of food and relief materials to Bangladesh by the middle of next week.

The Japanese government will provide relief grants worth $14 million, while the UK has pledged $5 million, China $1 million, India $1 million and Australia $160,000.

The first consignment of Japanese emergency relief containing 466 boxes of Japanese relief aid was handed over to Bangladesh officials on 20 November. The emergency relief goods include tents, blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheeting, water purifiers, portable water tanks and generators.

Washington has already assured the Bangladesh authorities of relief assistance worth $2.1 million.

The government of India responded with a relief package of $1 million.
Additionally, India will waive a recent ban on the export of rice to Bangladesh so that Bangladeshi authorities can procure 50,000 mt of rice from India immediately.

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The Chinese government will donate $1 million, while the Red Cross Society of China will donate $50,000 to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

The government of Switzerland has provided $160,000 in grants for relief materials.

Additionally, the European Commission announced on 19 November another $7.3 million in assistance, on top of the $2.2 million in fast-track aid allocated just one day after the 15 November disaster.

"The Commission's humanitarian field experts, who are in the stricken region, have reported total devastation in some villages; people left with nothing and living in the rubble. The homes of around 280,000 people have been swept away," said Louis Michel, the European commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, at the time of the announcement.

To date, the government of Bangladesh has allocated relief materials worth $20 million, while an additional $5.3 million has been allocated for the rehabilitation of the cyclone-affected people.

About 7,500 mt of rice have already been sent for distribution to cyclone-hit localities. Additionally, more than 5,000 tents, 17,262 blankets, 13,000 bundles of corrugated iron, 450 mt of dates and 1,200 mt of chickpeas have been distributed among survivors.

Relief effort continues

Meanwhile, relief efforts are continuing throughout the affected area, although access to some areas remains problematic. Bangladesh army relief and rescue teams are now reaching 70 percent of the affected areas, said officers at the army's control headquarters.

"There are many villages in remote areas, including sandbank islands that are yet to be reached. We don't know the losses sustained in those regions. It will take weeks before we know exactly how bad this cyclone was," Heather Blackwell, head of Oxfam in Bangladesh, said.

According to a statement by Oxfam International on 19 November, tens of thousands of people are in urgent need of food and shelter.

Members of the armed forces are working closely with over 40,000 Red Crescent volunteers and non-governmental organisation workers in distributing food, water, tents, clothing, medicine, and water purifying tablets to the survivors of the cyclone, which swept through 15 coastal districts of low lying Bangladesh, killing more than 3,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

On 18 November, the Bangladesh Red Crescent estimated that the final death toll could reach 10,000.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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