Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his mounting concern today at the trail of devastation and increasing death toll left by Cyclone Sidr after it tore into Bangladesh and he stressed that the United Nations stands ready to do all it can to help in the relief effort.
Media reports say that more than 2,000 people have been reported killed as a result of Cyclone Sidr, which struck the southwest coast of Bangladesh late on Thursday local time, bringing winds of more than 240 kilometres per hour and a water surge that created waves up to five metres high. The death toll is expected to climb further.
Thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, large tracts of cropland have been wiped and hundreds of thousands of people have had to evacuate their home villages and towns and now depend on aid for basic necessities.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban expressed “his profound condolences to the people and Government of Bangladesh for the many deaths and the destruction involved, and the full solidarity of the UN system at this time of crisis.”
The statement noted that UN humanitarian agencies on the ground in Bangladesh are already responding to the basic needs of some of the hundreds of thousands of people estimated to have been affected, while UN assessment teams are also ready to be deployed.
On Friday, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said the UN would make available several millions of dollars from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which was established to expedite aid operations following disasters.