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Deadly floods displace millions in Bangladesh and across South Asia

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2004
Homes surrounded by flood waters in Sunamgunj district.
By Maya Dollarhide
NEW YORK, 15 July 2004 – As the monsoon season continues in full force in South Asia, nearly five million children, women and men in Bangladesh have been directly affected by extreme flooding resulting from very heavy rainfall.

The rains have caused South Asia’s largest rivers – the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Jamuna – to flood their banks as they flow through Bangladesh towards the Bay of Bengal. Other countries like India and Nepal are also suffering from the heavy floods, which have destroyed homes, ruined crops and taken lives.

The government of Bangladesh has reported that the floods in the northern parts of the country  are receding; however, central parts of Bangladesh may be increasingly affected by rising water levels in the next couple of days, according to UNICEF Bangladesh

“These kinds of floods are a seasonal thing, but this year they have started in a very, very severe way,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Chief of Communications Naseem-Ur Rehman, during a phone interview. “We don’t know the extent of the damage yet, but the fact remains: The population’s needs are urgent.”

The government of Bangladesh has announced thatrice and biscuits will be provided to affected populations, along with financial relief. UNICEF is working to provide essential supplies for disease prevention and treatment, and is helping set up water and sanitation systems in the affected areas. UNICEF is also procuring water purification tablets, bleaching powder, spare parts for well repairs, jerry cans for safe water collection and I.V. fluid, among other supplies.

“UNICEF is working very closely with health facilities to ensure that essential drugs and supplies are at hand,” said Mr. Rehman. He added that one major priority is providing clean water to people displaced by the floods, especially children, in order to help prevent outbreaks of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

The first consignment of one million water purification tablets from UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen is expected to arrive in Dhaka on 17 July.



Audio interview

UNICEF Bangladesh Chief of Communications Naseem-Ur Rehman speaks to UNICEF correspondent Maya Dollarhide about the severe flood situation on the ground.

Audio Clip ([mp3]; Right click to download)

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