, by SK. ENAMUL HOQUE
Bangladesh needs $1 billion to complete the rehabilitation work in the cyclone affected areas. The need for the money was expressed recently by the Chief Adviser Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed in a meeting with the ambassadors and high commissioners stationed in Dhaka.
The cyclone ‘Sidr’ hit the southern region of Bangladesh on November 15 with winds of 155mph (250kph) and 5-foot tidal surge. The confirmed death toll has slightly rose to 3,268 and the number of the injured is nearly 40,000 (as on December 5). Nearly 5,64,000 houses were completely destroyed and 8,85,280 other houses were badly damaged. The UN said, livestock losses numbered at least 1.25 million and the estimated area of cropland losses has risen to 2.0 million acres.
Meanwhile, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a statement in Dhaka, said about 2 million people needed life saving assistance. It added that 2.6 million people of nine districts in Bangladesh needed emergency assistance and the total number of affected people was around 8.5 million, 1.5 million more than initially thought.
Saudi Arabia topped the list of donor countries with US$100 million cyclone relief in cash. This money was disbursed on November 28. KSA is going to send six jumbo jets carrying relief material for the cyclone victims. The first relief plane from Saudi Arabia arrived in Dhaka on December 3.
So far the government has received a commitment of US$200 million from the donor countries and agencies. In the meantime global communities have come up with huge relief in cash and kind to help the cyclone- affected people of Bangladesh.
Apart from that, the World Bank has committed to donate US$250 million for the rehabilitation programme.
Saudi Arabia could respond so quickly because a Saudi relief team was already in operation in Bangladesh since the twin floods devastated the country in September-October. An official of the ministry of Food and Disaster Management said that the same team was immediately mobilised for cyclone relief programme. The Saudi donation is being distributed through the government channel.
Two Pakistani flights carrying relief material also landed in Dhaka. Pakistan has also sent a 30-bed flying hospital with an army medical corps team and a good amount of emergency medicine. The mobile hospital is now operating in the cyclone-affected southern districts.
Pakistan also sent two naval ships carrying food material. The ships have already reached Chittagong Port.
Two other Muslim countries, Kuwait and Libya, donated US$10 million and $1 million respectively to the government fund .
Iran, Qatar and Turkey have also sent cyclone assistance to Bangladesh. Some of them have sent assessment team to verify the need and place their requisition before their respective authorities.
Apart from Muslim countries, the US government donation for cyclone victims stood at about US$14.5 million. Japan has committed to donate $4 million while China has donated $1 million. The Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited the cyclone-affected areas and promised to help rebuild the destroyed houses in the villages. India also agreed to sell 500,000 tonnes of food grains to Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, different political parties have begun relief works in the affected areas. Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh started immense relief works. The Ameer of Jamaat Maulana Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid have already visited the cyclone affected areas and donated relief material collected by the Jamaat workers. Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League also began distributing relief material.