Bangladesh: MSF have been assessing the most affected areas

Three teams of Médecins Sans Frontières have been assessing the most affected areas by the cyclone. About fifteen people including medical and logistical staff are currently in Bohla, Patuakhali, Jhalakati, Pirojpur, and Bagerhat districts in the South of Bangladesh, to assess the situation and the most urgent needs for the population affected by the cyclone.

The most affected places are the islands and the areas around the seashore, in the far south of Bangladesh. "In Galachipa, about 80% of the houses have been destroyed and people have lost almost all their belongings," reports Tony Marchant, an MSF logistician who assessed the islands of Galachipa, an an area of around 300,000 inhabitants located in Patuakhali district.

Damages are considerable but there has been a good local response to this emergency since it occurred on the 15th of November. Distributions of food and shelters are being undertaken. At the medical level, the response from the authorities and local NGOs has so far been sufficient to cover the main needs. Mobile clinics are active and local health structures are functioning.

As a first response, MSF teams have donated some medical material and plastic sheeting in remote areas. 1,000 kits of basic items, including soap, towels, clothing, kitchen utensils, jerrycans, buckets, will be distributed to affected families.

"In the islands we visited, water sources have been contaminated, and latrines have been flooded," describes Marchant. "People have to look for undamaged sources or even drink unclean water." Access to drinkable water is a common concern in these areas, but the cyclone made the situation even worse.

In order to improve the population's access to drinking water, MSF will now send 6 tonnes of water and sanitation material from Brussels to Bangladesh, including water pumps and chlorination material. In addition, a logistician is being despatched to reinforce the team.