The death toll from the cyclone which devastated south-western coastal areas of Bangladesh last Thursday is already 3,000 and rising.
As more remote areas and islands are reached, it is anticipated that the number of dead could rise to 10,000 or even 15,000.
Cyclone Sidr, the most destructive to hit Bangladesh in the last decade, follows barely three months after disastrous flooding affected many of the same parts of the country. The cyclone demolished houses, crops, farm animals and trees over an area of thousands of square kilometres. Many people were killed by trees falling on their houses. Electricity and telephone connections were lost.
Bangladeshi Christian workers and other Christian volunteers are struggling to reach those in the affected areas. They have a special concern for their fellow-believers at this time, as Christians are an impoverished and vulnerable minority of less than 1% in Bangladesh, who face discrimination in daily life, and sometimes outright persecution. Two of the worst affected provinces are Barisal and Khulna which together have a Christian population of around 137,000.
Barnabas Fund is working with our partners in Bangladesh to meet the needs of Christians in cyclone-affected areas. Aid via local partners is often the fastest and most effective method of help. One of our partners reports from his local area, where many Christians live, on hundreds of damaged homes and hundreds of deaths. Two hundred Christian homes were damaged in two villages alone. Local Christian groups on the ground are already in place, and have the motivation and experience to assist brothers and sisters in need.
Barnabas Fund`s partners in Bangladesh are experienced in providing aid and relief for disaster victims. Just recently four partner organisations disbursed £31,715 in grants from Barnabas Fund to assist approximately 20,000 Christian victims of the August floods.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, comments:
“Please pray for all caught up in this terrible disaster, but especially for our fellow-Christians, who number about a million in Bangladesh. Natural disasters like this can affect Christian minorities particularly hard in countries where they face discrimination as a normal part of everyday life. Relief and aid distributed by local authorities in such contexts may not reach the Christian minorities, either because they are deliberately omitted or because they are simply overlooked. Marginalised Christians are frequently at the end of the queue when aid is given out.”
Can you help our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh affected by the cyclone?
One partner has already requested help to repair or re-build 919 houses for Christians and provide 1,000 farm animals for those whose animals were killed. The average cost to repair/re-build one house is £70 (US147, NZ$189, A$154; €98). The average cost of one animal is £21 (US$44; NZ$57, A$46; €29). Other requests will be coming in to Barnabas Fund shortly. With your help we can be ready to assist immediately.
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