SOURCE: ActionAid International

November 21, 2007 13:27 ET

Bangladesh Cyclone Relief: Focus on Women, Vulnerable Communities

DHAKA, BANGLADESH--(Marketwire - November 21, 2007) - On the sixth day of its massive efforts to reach out to those impacted in Bangladesh by Cyclone Sidr, ActionAid relief teams, working with local organizations, are establishing extra efforts to reach out to women, children and other vulnerable communities.

"Relief need is huge and the supply is low," said Mohammed Zakaria of ActionAid Bangladesh, who is currently in Barisal, one of the hardest-hit areas. "We used boats and trawlers to reach out to the remote villages as there are many people who are stranded in remote islands," he said.

"We saw many children in the open and women with only one sari to cover themselves," said a team member of ActionAid from Patuakhali, a flashpoint of the disaster.

Media reports indicate that over 3,500 people died in the killer cyclone that hit southern Bangladesh last Thursday night. With winds of 155 mph and a 5-metre high sea surge, Cyclone Sidr left a long trail of death and devastation. "80% of the trees and livestock have been destroyed," said ActionAid team members who have just come back to Dhaka after their first round of relief efforts.

The government of Bangladesh has appealed for international support.

ActionAid is currently stepping up its humanitarian assistance from its own resources as well as from a grant that has come from European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).

"We are overwhelmed. However, we will put all efforts to reach out to the people, especially women and children as they often get overlooked in such situations," said Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh.

The emergency relief packs that ActionAid is distributing include food, warm clothes, cooking vessels, utensils and medical supplies. To supplement the efforts of its team in Bangladesh, ActionAid is deploying more humanitarian experts from its international pool.

"This cyclone has reversed the development clock by a generation," said Dr Unnikrishnan PV, Emergencies & Conflicts Advisor ActionAid International, from Dhaka. "Rebuilding communities is a long term challenge and the donors need to be sensitive to this reality."

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. For more information, www.actionaid.org.

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