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UN allocates US$ 8.8 mn to cyclone-hit Bangladesh
Dharam Shourie in United Nations | November 21, 2007 09:20 IST
The United Nations has allocated US$ 8.8 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to support relief efforts in Bangladesh. Cycolne Sidr, which struck the country last week, has claimed over 3,100 lives and left millions homeless.
The grant will make funds available immediately for relief operations and enable several UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, the UN Children's Fund and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, to provide food, shelter, water and sanitation.
"I hope this first allocation of CERF funds will enable some important and immediate life saving needs to be met. But I am well aware that much more is likely to be required both from the UN and other donors, and over a significant period -such is the scale of the disaster affecting so many people," said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.
Citing government statistics, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that over 2,400 people are dead and nearly 1,500 missing after Cyclone Sidr, the second strongest of three major storms ever to hit Bangladesh, struck the country on November 16.
Over 273,000 houses and 760,000 acres of crop were also destroyed in the storm.
UN agencies are currently distributing 208 tonnes of high-energy biscuits to an estimated 8,50,000 people, while providing shelter materials to 18,000 households and water purification packets to about 48,000 families.
A UN team is continuing to assess the damage and the needs in some of the worst affected districts.
CERF was created to provide immediate financial aid for emergency situations without waiting for donors to make commitments, which sometime takes weeks. The money given by the fund is replenished from the donations received later.
Meanwhile, UNICEF reported extensive damage to roads and schools, noting that almost 800 government schools have been destroyed, and more than 4,000 have been partially destroyed.
The agency, which is working with the Ministry of Education on addressing a number of issues, is currently asking for US$ 2.3 million for its programmes focused on nutrition, water and sanitation, non-food items and child protection.