Bangladesh cyclone damage: continue relief supply distribution

On 15 November 2007, the number of casualties caused by large cyclone hit in Bangladesh was 3,347 people, and 871 people were still missing. These figures were officially announced by the government. The Red Cross is currently engaged in relief supply aid and medical examinations in the four districts of Barguna, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, and Patuakhali, out of the nine coastal districts that received serious damage. Also the Red Cross supports families who were sent to different shelters and gathers information about missing people in order for the families to get together again.

Here is a report from Mr. Yukiya Saito, a member of Red Cross team who was sent by the Japanese Red Cross and is currently distributing aid supplies.

"The destinations for relief supplies are decided based on the families who lost jobs, people who lost most of their housing and household goods, and those families who accepted orphan children."

Together with the branch staff of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society which is close to the disaster site, we researched the degree of the disaster condition, and decided target villages after coordinating with other aid agencies and government agencies. Then young Red Crescent volunteers were sent to the villages. Information that is gathered by walking around the villages is reported to the branch, and the destinations for relief supplies were discussed based on the report. Again, young volunteers of another team made the list of the distribution addresses and card, working through the night. The next morning, volunteers went back to the villages and distribution cards were given to the disaster victims, which detail the place and time of the distribution.

In the meantime, at the branch, aid supplies are loaded in the truck at the relief aid supply warehouse. In the afternoon, trucks with relief aid supplies drive on a narrow path still strewn with wreckage. At that time, people start gathering at the distribution site. With the cooperation of school teachers and facilitators, volunteers have the people who receive the supplies stand in the lines.

However, the distribution is not necessarily always on schedule. One day, a truck broke down on the way and got stuck. The relief aid for 300 out of the scheduled 400 households did not arrive on time. In front of the volunteers, 400 people stand in lines in the hot weather, although it gets milder in winter. "Everyone, please sit down." Teachers are walking along the line. There may be a possibility that people become sick, so they should not wait very long. Finally, the relief aid was unloaded from the truck that was in the village. The truck went back along the same road in order to load the relief supplies from the broken down truck.

First of all, we distributed aid for 100 households. The distribution started with the women and elderly who were in a more vulnerable position. The distribution cards were checked against the list, and rice, beans, salt, and clothes were given. However, the next truck did not arrive. "Is it coming soon?" People were begging. "It is arriving soon! Let's wait! They are on the way," facilitators called out. "It does not always go efficiently, but with the support from the local people, volunteers are working very hard."