Bangladesh cyclone is race against time as winter approaches

By staff writers
November 22, 2007

The approach of winter in Bangladesh has intensified the race against time to provide blankets, food and shelter to thousands of people left destitute by Cyclone Sidr, says a leading Bangladeshi aid worker.

With temperatures beginning to fall in some of the coastal districts where thousands lost their homes, Sylvester Halder, Associate director HEED (Health, Education & Economic Development), which is supported by Christian relief & development agency Tearfund, says: “We are moving towards winter and thousands of people are living in the open without warm clothes or shelter. It is getting cooler and people urgently need clothes, blankets and food to survive.” He said temperatures, currently 15 degrees and falling during the night, in January could drop as low as six degrees Celsius.

Mr Halder, whose organisation is currently distributing emergency food aid to 10,000 people, welcomed the DEC Appeal, saying: “There are many urgent needs such as food and blankets, but it will take one to two years for some of these communities to recover. We need also to make a long-term response ensuring that we replace the bamboo and straw huts that were destroyed with stronger homes that will withstand storms and cyclones.”

In the hours before Cyclone Sidr struck, HEED’s staff and community volunteers successfully helped 27,000 people evacuate to nine cyclone shelters across five districts. “If we did not have a system of warning some of these people would have perished,” says Sylvester Halder.

The Disaster Emergency Committee’s 13 major aid agencies today (Thursday) launched an appeal to help millions of people left without food and shelter following the Bangladesh cyclone.

The DEC Appeal will provide desperately needed relief to people suffering after one of the most ferocious cyclones to hit Bangladesh in decades. More than five million people have been affected. Families have been left without enough food, water, or shelter, while an estimated million homes have been destroyed or damaged and around a million acres of cropland devastated.

For donations, please log on to the DEC website at or phone 0870 6060900

The Disasters Emergency Committee agencies are Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision

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