Dhaka, May 23 (EFE).- Over 1.5 million children are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to extensive flooding in northeastern Bangladesh as a result of heavy rains in the country in recent days, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement Monday.
Over four million people in the districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Netrokona and Maulvibazar have been affected by extensive flooding, with Sylhet and Sunamganj among the most severely-hit.
“The damage to lives, homes and schools is heartbreaking. In this disaster, as in most others, children are the most vulnerable. UNICEF is on the ground to protect children,” said the UN body’s Bangladesh representative, Sheldon Yett.
UNICEF has been working with the government and nonprofits in matters related to urgent safety, health, nutrition and clean water needs of children and their families in the affected areas.
There have been cases of diarrhea, respiratory infection, and skin diseases, while at least three children have lost their lives after being struck by lightning, according to the statement.
Hundreds of schools have been closed, affecting the education of children, whose education has been hampered due to 18 months of school closures due to the pandemic.
Moreover, agricultural land and critical infrastructure, including power stations and schools, have been submerged.
The UN agency has been working with the government’s flood response team in ensuring the supply of clean water, hygiene kits, therapeutic milk and learning kits.
Heavy rains in recent days in Bangladesh have left at least 10 people dead and led to the evacuation of 10,000 others to shelters, Moshharraf Hossain, administrative head of the town of Sylhet, told EFE on Monday.
The official estimated that about two million people have been affected by heavy rainfall, and noted that although “the flood situation is now improving slowly,” two of the country’s main rivers, Surma and Kushiyara, were “still above the hazard level.”
Heavy rains and thunderstorms are common in South Asia during the monsoon season – between May and September -, during which they cause hundreds of deaths and affect millions in the region every year. EFE