Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 10:38 UK

Monsoon warning for Bangladeshis

By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Bangladesh

Family living in shack after Cyclone Sidr
Aid agencies say they cannot help all those in need

Aid agencies say millions of Bangladeshis are still in dire need of help five months after Cyclone Sidr battered the country's coastline.

The warning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies comes weeks before the next monsoon is due.

Cyclone Sidr was the worst storm to hit Bangladesh in a decade.

It destroyed or damaged 1.5 million homes and killed some 3,500 people when it struck in November.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies issued its warning on behalf of aid agencies working in Bangladesh.

The agencies say that hundreds of thousands of families are still living under plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and other basic shelters which leave them at the mercy of the elements.

"The combined efforts of all aid agencies as well as bilateral government pledges for core housing are likely to reach around 60,000 affected families," the federation's Graham Saunders said.

"But this is only a fraction of those who need help. More than 260,000 extremely vulnerable families are currently not getting any assistance to rebuild their homes."

The aid agencies say that the scale of the destruction across southern Bangladesh is simply too massive for them to provide meaningful assistance to all of those in need.

Most affected families have started to rebuild their houses by themselves, but the aid agencies, in their joint appeal, said that many were using materials that might not withstand the monsoon.

"Some of the current building techniques are outright dangerous and could cause injuries once the winds and rains arrive," Heather Blackwell of Oxfam said.

"We need to make sure that people are aware of simple and practical techniques that make their homes more resistant to storms, floods and cyclones."

The monsoon is expected to strike Bangladesh next month and last until September.

Then it is the cyclone season again. The aid agencies describe the situation as deeply worrying.

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