30 May 2009

Relief insufficient, people in remote places remain unfed for 4 days









Cry for water, food in cyclone-hit areas

In the aftermath of cyclone Aila, thousands of villagers in Bagerhat, Satkhira, Khulna, Bhola and Noakhali now cry for food and drinking water for survival, as relief operations are insufficient to deal with the enormity of the situation. People, living in remote areas, are the worst-sufferers, as relief materials could not reach them even after four days of the cyclone Aila that smashed the coastal belt on Monday (May 25), UNB correspondents report after visiting different affected places. In some places, people are forced to drink polluted water to quench their thirst. Diarrhea has broken out in the cyclone-hit areas and it may soon take epidemic form unless the government provides water purification tablets and medicines to people in such areas. Medical teams are not sufficient to treat hundreds of diarrhea patients. Four people have so far died of diarrhea in Satkhira, reports UNB correspondent. Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque had nearly a four-hour meeting till 1:00am on Friday in Satkhira with the local administration to ensure supply of relief materials for Aila victims. Lt Col Zillur Rahman, who is coordinating the army relief activities in Satkhira, told the meeting in presence of Food and Disaster Management Minister that relief did not reach many remote areas when the government officials claimed sending relief materials to each remote area. "A woman dropped to my foot and begged simply for a bottle of water to give her kid who remained unfed for the last three days," the colonel said while narrating the actual scenario of relief distribution. UNB Bhola correspondent said many people remain half-fed for the last three days. "Some local NGOs are working with the government but supply of relief materials is very poor," he said. Many people were stranded in some 20 isolated chars where government relief has not reached yet. UNB Khulna correspondent said people were not prepared for such disaster. People's misery has doubled, as the government could not send the cyclone warning quickly, like it had done before the cyclone SIDR. He said over 200 people are still missing in Khulna and survivors in remote areas are crying for food and water. A resident in Hatiya of Noakhali told UNB that three navy ships have distributed relief packets containing 500 grams of chira (flattened rice), one candle and a bottle of water. They distributed 250 such packets at Tamruddin union and 125 each at Char King union and Sukhchar on Wednesday, he said adding that the relief was too scanty to meet the demand. Amena Begum, a 63-year-old woman at Padmapukur union in Satkhira, said: "I can't express my grief, everything seems meaningless. How can I survive as my key means of earning, a cow, has died. Also I'm homeless now." Mamunur Rahman, another cyclone victim from the same union, said he is in great trouble, unable to manage food for his three-member family. He said he had been given meager relief only once. "I can't say how I feel when my three-year-old child Nazma cries for food. I can't do anything," he said, adding that he would manage to survive with his family if drinking water could be found. A similar scenario prevailed everywhere, as the correspondents found while talking to dozens of people in Bhola, Satkhira, Khulna and Hatiya. Most of the people were seen crying for water, food and fuel to cook foods. Diarrhoea has broken out in the cyclone-hit coastal areas of Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, Bhola and Hatiya for lack of safe drinking water. Inadequate medical teams and medicines have made the situation critical, UNB correspondents said. Satkhira Civil Surgeon Dr Md Ebadullah told the reporters that 37 medical teams are working in the affected areas of the district.