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Bangladesh UN Call For Urgent Aid To Flood Victims

Bangladesh: UN Renews Call For Urgent Aid To Victims Of Worst Flooding In Years

With only a third of the $210 million flash appeal for last month's devastating floods in Bangladesh in hand, drinking water in short supply, and farmers in urgent need of seeds, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for the country today urged donors not to forget the disaster which killed 900 people and displaced 4 million more.

"After surviving weeks of massive flooding, rural populations in Bangladesh are now facing months of painful and protracted misery because they have much reduced income," Jorgen Lissner said ahead of a donor meeting in Geneva.

"They have no income, damaged shelters, few assets, and are highly vulnerable to disease," he added, calling the present situation a "quiet disaster" since the crisis from the worst flooding in years remained while earlier worldwide attention had ebbed.

The floods wiped out large areas of croplands and damaged more than 4 million homes, but little more than $60 million in aid has so far come in from the international community, Elizabeth Byrs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a news briefing in Geneva.

Thousands of water sources are still contaminated by floodwater. Many farmers' seed stocks were swept away, with the time for planting the new crop fast ending. They need seeds now if the next harvest in November is to meet the future food requirements of the south Asian country's over 140 million people.

More than half the population is dependent on agriculture to earn a living. With that sector now struggling, farmers and labourers have lost vital income opportunities. Alternative sources of income, especially for the poor, need to be generated quickly.

Likewise, small business owners are struggling. The flood damaged or destroyed the assets of many entrepreneurs who will need support to regain their livelihoods.

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