The harsh temperatures have caused the death of 20 people. In Bangladesh, winters are generally mild, so the population is not equipped with blankets and radiators. In Rajshahi 2,500 families rescued.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - At least 20 people have died and several hundred have fallen ill due to the worst cold spell of the last 50 years to hit in Bangladesh. The country has a usually tropical climate characterized by mild winters. But two days ago Panchagarh recorded the lowest temperature in the country, with a record of 2.6 ° C. The cold and linked illnesses are making the lives of needy people even more miserable. This is why Caritas has activated relief efforts and has already begun to distribute aid to the victims.
Winter temperatures rarely fall below 10 degrees, but this year a "polar" frost fell which drastically lowered the mercury column. Yesterday at Rajshahi the temperature was 6 ° C.
The population, largely comprising poor farmers, is not used to such harsh winters and does not have adequate facilities to protect itself from the cold. There are no woollen clothes and blankets, there are no heaters in the houses because most of the houses are made of mud. The cold has favored the onset of diseases related to low temperatures, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and sore throats.
Sebastian Hembron, of Naogaon, reports that "because of the cold, we could not go out to work. And if we do not work, we do not bring food home." It is the same fate for millions of daily workers whose survival - theirs and their families - depends on the daily income.
Caritas has set up a relief operation to help the worst affected. Denis C. Baskey, regional director of Rajshahi's office, reports: "We have collected money from our staff and from the funds we have. With this money, we can help about 800 people, including the elderly, orphans, the sick, the poor with disabilities, the needy and widowed women ". The goal, he continues, "is to reach up to 2500 families, so we are looking for funds from donors".
An elderly woman from Naogaon comments: "I thank Caritas because I received a blanket. It will be of great help for me ". Finally, Md. Reaz Ahmed, Director General of the Dhaka Disaster Management Office, said the authorities began distributing assistance items in 20 districts, "a total of 98,000 blankets and 80,000 boxes" across the country.
With the help of a national bank, the Church hands out blankets and other items to more than 150 needy families. The poorest and the sick suffer at night from the cold.