28 July 2004 With more than 23 million people in Bangladesh affected by devastating floods that could yet worsen after already killing at least 275 people and damaging or destroying over 12 million houses, United Nations agencies are rushing in aid ranging from essential medicines to food to water purification tablets.
Flooding has also hit the neighbouring Indian state of Assam, affecting nearly 10,500 villages with a total population of more than 12 million people, killing more than 180 people and rendering millions homeless.
A new Operations Coordination Room has been set up to consolidate all assessments on the ground in Bangladesh under the Disaster and Emergency Response area of the south Asian country's Local Consultative Group, which includes such bodies as the UN and the World Bank.
Nearly 1 million people have been forced to move into shelters and the situation is still worsening in the capital, Dhaka, where water from several river basins is continuing to flow in. Some 2 million acres of crops has also been damaged or destroyed in Bangladesh.
UN agencies involved in aid operations include the World Health Organization (WHO), which is providing essential drugs and medical supplies and the World Food Programme (WFP), which, with its partners, has been distributing high energy biscuits, rice and polypropylene bags.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has pledged a further $100,000 for nutrition, sanitation, health and water-related needs and has also donated water purification tablets, temporary sanitary facilities and food for young children.
The forecast for the country of 124 million people remains one of prolonged flooding, with possible recurrences towards the end of August. The Government continues to welcome any international assistance provided by the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.