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Severe flooding triggers humanitarian crisis in north-eastern Bangladesh

UN RC Bangladesh
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Situation Overview

Heavy monsoon rains and water from upstream in India's northeast have inundated large parts of the Sylhet division, leaving millions of people marooned and triggering a humanitarian crisis. The flash floods swept away homes and inundated farmlands, forcing families to seek shelter on higher ground and temporary flood shelters, while power cut is making life miserable. According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC), around 94 pe rcent of Sunamganj and over 84 percent of Sylhet are submerged. The FFWC forecasted that the flood situation in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Netrakona districts may deteriorate further in the next 24 hours, and the water level will continue to rise for the next three days. Experts considered the flood worse than the ones they had experienced in 1998 and 2004. The crisis struck at a time when the people of the division were recovering from unexpected recent floods that hit in late May. An estimated 4.3 million people are impacted by this sudden flash flood and water congestion in seven northeastern districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulivazar, Habiganj, Netrakona, and Brahmanbaria. Many households are isolated due to floods, while some have taken shelter in open areas. The safety and security of women and girls in those households are at high risk. As many as 25,000 people have been taken to around 450 shelter centres in Sylhet; at the same time, 65,000 people were evacuated to 200 shelter centres in Sunamganj in a combined effort of the Army, Navy, Fire Service, and the local authorities, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR). Besides the northeast, the mild flood also hit the northern districts. The GoB in a press conference said 64 Upazilas in 10 districts have been hit by the flood all over Bangladesh.

Highlights and Key Messages

• Preliminary information highlights the scarcity of transportation/ boats for search and rescue operations, which would make it particularly difficult for evacuating the elderly, and persons with disability.

• National authorities postponed the SSC exam countrywide; educational institutions have been closed in the affected areas. Government primary schools use as flood shelters in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.

• Flight operations in Sylhet’s Osmani International Airport have been suspended for three days as flood water has reached the runway.

• People in Sylhet and Sunamganj were without power as the electricity supply was stopped to avoid accidents.

• Due to disrupted electricity connections, mobile communications are difficult to get updated information in the affected areas.

• Major regional highways, including Sylhet-Sunamganj and Sylhet-Bholaganj, are submerged, and road connectivity has already snapped due to the intensity of flooding.

• Most of the markets in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts are not functioning, and people are managing their buffer foods and taking help from neighbours.

• Evacuation centres are not equipped with the required provisions to ensure the safety and security of women, girls, and children.

• Health facilities at the Upazila level, Upazila Health Complex (UHC), Community Clinic (CC), and Union Health & Family Welfare Centre (UH&FWC) are impacted significantly due to the flood.