“The water lashing out all over. Situation is worsening! Helpless are praying!” This is the message that came to Barnabas Fund from a Pentecostal pastor in Bangladesh, desperate for someone to help him give aid to Christians affected by terrible floods.
In the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, impoverished Christians eke out a meagre existence. Mostly tribal people or converts from Islam, they are needy, vulnerable and despised.
Torrential rains this month have caused more than 400 landslides in the Chittagong Hills, killing five people, injuring 17, flattening houses and sweeping away crops. Some people are marooned in their homes; others are camping by the roadside without a roof over their heads and no way to cook food.
Clean water sources have been contaminated by dirty flood waters, with dead fish and farm animals floating in them. People are suffering from pneumonia, typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea and other diseases, with children and pregnant women especially at risk. In the country as a whole, at least 1.3 million people have been affected, the majority in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, with 34 killed including 18 struck by lightning.
The mighty Brahmaputra river, swollen by monsoon rains that fell upstream in India as well as in Bangladesh itself, has been threatening to breach its banks at 628 points. Last night (18 July) at least three embankments finally gave way, swamping ground upstream of Chittagong and causing hundreds of thousands more people to abandon their homes.
Help poor and vulnerable Christians in the Chittagong Hills
Please help the churches of Bangladesh to bring urgently needed aid to the Christian flood victims. “Your intense prayer and kind support for them will be highly appreciated,” says one pastor. Christians are normally discriminated against when government relief aid is distributed in Bangladesh.
It costs about £58 ($73; €65) per month to help a family of five in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This will provide rice, lentils (dal), potatoes, cooking oil, iodised salt, water purification tablets, rehydration salts, sugar and medicines as needed.
The Pentecostal pastor alone has 200 families to assist in the first instance, that is about 1,000 people. The Presbyterians have more. With livelihoods disrupted, crops destroyed, livestock drowned, homes and possessions ruined, it will be many months before families are self-sufficient again.
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