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Bangladesh: Torrential rains turn villages into islands after Cyclone Remal batters coastal areas

DHAKA, 27 MAY, 2024: Torrential rains and tidal surges have turned villages into islands after a severe cyclone tore through coastal areas of Bangladesh, leaving thousands of children and their families in need of assistance, said Save the Children.

Cyclone Remal brought heavy rain to the low-lying coast of Bangladesh on Sunday night and into Monday, with wind speeds gusting up to 135 kilometers (84 miles) per hour. Rising flood waters have turned many villages into islands after tidal surges broke through protective embankments, leaving entire communities stranded on higher ground.

Some 8.4 million people live in the path of the cyclone, according to local authorities, including about 3.6 million children. In the leadup to the storm, at least 800,000 people were evacuated into cyclone shelters in schools and mosques, with 78,000 volunteers  mobilised to assist with the relief effort.

Save the Children has sent four emergency response teams – including a medical team - to three districts to support in the recovery, and has aid stocks in place to help those most in need.

Heavy rain is continuing, with fears of landslides in the hilly Cox’s Bazar camps, home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees.  Many refugees live in flimsy shelters that are not built to withstand storms. Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable [1] to the impacts of the climate crisis, with the Global Climate Risk Index classifying the low-lying country as the seventh most extreme disaster risk-prone country in the world in 2021.

Shumon Sengupta, Country Director, Save the Children in Bangladesh said:

“The impact of this severe cyclone shows yet again how vulnerable Bangladesh is to extreme weather events. In the last month, children have been baking in extreme heat – and now are having to cope with the impacts of widespread flooding and destruction caused by the cyclone. Schools that were closed due to the heatwave have now been closed again, with many turned into emergency shelters.  

“Many lives have been saved due to effective early warning and decisive action, including planning and preparation by the Bangladeshi authorities with decades of experience of responding to storms and flooding. Thousands of local volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure that the most vulnerable people were moved into cyclone shelters, but climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of these events and jeopardising the rights and lives of children.

“ World leaders must tackle the underlying causes of such climate driven disasters, including urgently reducing warming temperatures and channelling funding and support to children and their families in Bangladesh to adapt, recover and rebuild their lives. Next week governments will meet in Bonn for a UN conference that includes for the first time a landmark “expert dialogue” on children and climate change. This needs to bring about increased recognition and understanding of the unique and disproportionate impacts of this crisis on children”.

Save the Children has been working in Bangladesh for more than 50 years. Together with government, civil society organizations and businesses we respond to major emergencies, deliver development programmes and ensure that children’s voices are heard through our campaigning to build a better future.

Notes to editors

[1] https://gain.nd.edu/our-work/country-index/rankings/

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