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Receding Bangladesh floods leave country in chaos

Floodwaters are receding in Bangladesh after submerging nearly two-thirds of the country, but many people are still cut off and in dire need of food and clean water.

The devastating floods have affected nearly 30 million people and are the worst since 1988, which left over 21 million homeless. Losses to property and infrastructure are said to be in the region of $A10.02 billion.

Caritas organisations around the world, including Caritas Australia, are working through Caritas Bangladesh, which is currently providing food aid and medicines to 32,000 families in the worst affected areas. Caritas hopes to complete immediate relief distributions by 25 August when over 44,000 families will have been reached.

The situation is reported to be dire. About 1.5 million people are living in 5,000 public buildings, schools and flood shelters and face acute scarcity of safe drinking water, adequate food relief and health services.

Lack of food is a serious concern as Bangladesh has not had any surplus food production for 3 years and there may not be enough reserves in place to feed the population. According to the UN's World Food Program, up to five million people may need emergency food aid.

Waterborne diseases have broken out at an alarming rate as people are forced to drink unsafe water. Thousands of people are now suffering from diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, pneumonia and scabies. There is not enough water purifying tablets or oral rehydration saline to treat the sick. Children are especially vulnerable to diarrhoea.

Bangladesh: receding floods leave country in chaos (Independent Catholic News 10/8/04)

Flood relief centres urge people to go home ( 10/8/04)
Bangladesh floods: water receding, woes mounting (CAFOD 9/8/04)
Caritas makes appeal to prevent humanitarian crisis ( 6/8/04)
Tragic floods marked by day-to-day heroism ( 5/8/04)
Caritas Raises Bangladesh Appeal to Over $3 Million Dollars (Caritas Internationalis 5/8/04)
Floods: "Food and medicine needed", Caritas launching food-for-work project (Missionary Service News Agency 4/8/04)
Floods cover one third of the country and knock out economy ( 4/8/04)
Caritas urges support for Bangladesh floods victims (Caritas Australia 29/7/04)
Caritas responds as floodwaters cover two-thirds of Bangladesh (Catholic News Service 28/7/04)
Flood crisis: victims risk epidemics ( 27/7/04)
Caritas Australia launches Bangladesh Flood Appeal (CathNews 30/7/04)

11 Aug 2004