THE Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has "expressed
gratitude to the Almighty" after a cyclone that was predicted to
affect 8.2 million people passed without "any significant
Last week, the United Nations warned that 8.2 million people
were at risk from Cyclone Mahasen in Bangladesh, Burma, and
north-east India. The Bangladeshi government evacuated almost a
million people from coastal areas, and in Burma more than 166,000
people were relocated.
The storm struck the Patuakhali district, on the Bangladeshi
coast, on Thursday night, but it quickly weakened. The UN Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Friday
that the region was spared "any significant impact".
The government of Bangladesh reported six deaths, however; and
Christian Aid reported that 14 people had been killed in the
country, and 46,000 homes destroyed.
Fears in Burma were centred on Rakhine State, where displaced
Rohingya Muslims are living in camps after intercommunal violence
erupted last year (News, 9 November). Many refused to leave the
camps. On Tuesday, at least 50 Rohingya Muslims drowned after boats
evacuating them capsized.
On Friday, the acting country director for Oxfam in Burma, Jane
Lonsdale, said that the communities of Rakhine remained "very
vulnerable, particularly the 140,000 displaced people living in
camps, some still in tents. This is only the beginning of the
monsoon season: people face heavy rain and potentially more storms.
The international aid community has been highlighting for many
months now the need to relocate those people living in low-lying
camps with poor shelter; nothing has changed in the respect - it
still needs to be urgently addressed."
Christian Aid released £100,000 to support the emergency
response of its partners in Bangladesh. More than 1000 people
sought refuge in schools used as emergency shelters, and which
World Vision helped to build.
Tearfund's Country Representative in Bangladesh, Suchitra
Behera, said on Thursday that the charity's partners were contacted
by the government to be on standby: "It's a great testimony that
the Church is known by the government as one of the first places to
call on for support in such situations."
This week, a conference on disaster risk-reduction was held in
Geneva. The Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Abul Hasan
Mahmood Ali, called on the international community to "intensify
their commitment and support to the scaling up of our
disaster-risk-reduction and climate-change-adaptation