EnvironmentPolitics & News

Floods Strand over 2mn People in Bangladesh

Weeks of monsoon rains have caused extensive flooding in Northern Bangladesh, submerging homes and stranding over 2 million people, reported CNN.

It is the second wave of flooding that hit country in less than a month. Video footages published by state-run news agency (BSS) show large swathes of Sylhet city and the nearby town of Sunamganj submerged in water.

Torrential Rain

Prolonged heavy rains and upstream river water from India have caused water levels in four rivers to increase beyond their danger marks, according to the Water Development Board.

Local media has raised concern over villagers trapped by floodwaters in areas of Sylhet, that now face shortages in food and clean water.

The BSS reported that the flooding affected about 964,000 people in Sylhet and 792,000 in Sunamganj. Authorities said they had set up more than 6,000 shelters to help the displaced people.

At least 10 people, including three children, were killed on Wednesday after heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides in the Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh.

Children at Risk

The United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday that this figure includes 772,000 children who were in urgent need of assistance.

Floods Strand over 2mn People in Bangladesh
A mother holds her son in front of her house in floodwater

Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh, said in a statement: “As waters rise, children are the most vulnerable, facing heightened risks of drowning, malnutrition, deadly waterborne diseases, the trauma of displacement, and potential abuse in overpopulated shelters.”

Dire Need

According to the international development organization BRAC, about 2.25 million people have been affected by the floods, with 1.6 million stranded in Sylhet, Sunamganj, and Moulvibazar districts in northeastern Bangladesh, leaving 12,000 people in the region without electricity.

Meanwhile, fish farmers have faced significant losses as the flood washed away over 13,600 ponds, with an estimated economic toll of over $11.4 million.

The non-profit organization said it was exerting efforts to deliver emergency food and health support to hundreds of families in Sylhet and Sunamganj.

Khondoker Golam Tawhid, head of BRAC’s Disaster Risk Management Program, warned that flooding in Bangladesh is “becoming increasingly dangerous in the short-term, but also incredibly damaging in the long-term, with huge losses to livelihoods, biodiversity and infrastructure – and interruption to schooling and health services.”

Climate Change Impact

Tawhid added that Bangladesh is used to flooding, but “climate change is making floods more intense and less predictable, making it impossible for families to stay safe, let alone plan ahead.”

Floods Strand over 2mn People in Bangladesh
People move their belongings through a flooded street in Sylhet

While the South Asian country is prone to seasonal rains, flooding and cyclones, it is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, according to studies.

As the climate crisis makes extreme weather events more frequent and severe, Bangladesh will continue to suffer worsening humanitarian and economic impacts. The World Bank warned that by 2050, 13 million people in Bangladesh could become climate migrants and the country’s GDP could fall by as much as 9% as a result of severe flooding.

Deteriorating Situation

These torrential rains and flooding came as the region had barely recovered from the devastating impacts of another widespread flooding. In late May, Tropical Cyclone Remal hit Bangladesh and southern India, affecting about 5 million people.

Against this backdrop, Sultana Begum, Save the Children’s regional humanitarian advocacy and policy manager for Asia, said in a statement: “For many, this will change the course of their lives, leaving them without homes and schools and forcing them to move to temporary shelters for who knows how long.”

She added: “Everything we are hearing points towards these kinds of extreme weather events getting worse and worse. And we have certainly not seen two bouts of severe flooding happen in such quick succession before.”

“Make no mistake, the climate emergency is already making its mark on India and Bangladesh, and it is robbing children of their homes, families, food, water, and access to education and healthcare,” Begum warned.

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