Cyclone Amphan: Flash Update (21 May 2020)
Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh
On 20 May 2020, Cyclone Amphan made landfall near Jammu Island, West Bengal at 5.00 pm BST with 130-140 km/h wind speed. Initial reports inform that 9 persons lost their life in Bangladesh. It includes a leader of the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP). Many low-lying areas were inundated, embankments collapsed in many places due to high tidal surge, trees were uprooted, and houses were reportedly damaged by the cyclone in the coastal districts of Bangladesh. Satkhira district is by far the hardest hit district. Once again, the mangrove forest of the Sundarbans contributed to reduce the impact of the cyclone on Bangladesh. However, it also suffered damages that will be assessed by the Forest Department.
Preliminary reports from the Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) inform that impacted districts are Khulna, Jessore, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola and Noakhali. It concerns 10 million people. Damages are mostly due to embankments collapses and overflows due to tidal surge. 500,000 families could have lost their houses. Saline water intrusion is likely to have long-lasting consequences on livelihoods in the coastal areas. According to the information from Rural Electrification Board more than one million consumers lost electricity.
In Cox’s Bazar, humanitarian partners are in the Rohingya refugee camps assessing the damage and more consolidated and verified information will be available later today. Preliminary reports indicate that damage is fairly minimal with some 300 shelters sustaining damage, some 60 of which are fully destroyed. Flooding and small landsides have been reported in several camps, as well as blocked drains and damaged stairs, latrines and bridges. At this stage, there are no reports of casualties or deaths. Humanitarian partners are on standby to ensure access to information, temporary shelter, food, safe drinking water and other vital services for affected refugees according to need.
Government Preparedness and Response
The Government of Bangladesh took all possible precaution to limit the loss of lives and livelihoods in anticipation of the cyclone. The National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) led by the Honorable Prime Minister provided the policy and strategic guidance towards disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts. Cabinet Secretary led an inter-ministerial meeting to coordinate the preparedness efforts and under the leadership of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) disaster management committees were activated at all levels.
National authorities ordered the evacuation of approximately 2 million people. 12,078 cyclone shelters were ready to accommodate the evacuees in line with COVID-19 prevention measures. Upazila health complexes were prepared for the isolation of evacuees presenting COVID-19 like symptoms. All shelters were equipped with masks, sanitizers, and handwashing facilities and soap. BDRCS and CPP volunteers ready for support evacuation in 9 districts. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, law enforcement authorities, volunteers from the Cyclone Preparedness Programme and the communities themselves supported preparedness efforts. The Government also allocated emergency support (food, cash, cattle feed) to the districts most likely to be severely impacted. Local authorities are using these allocations to provide immediate assistance to the people in need.
The Armed Forces supported evacuation operations from the Sundarbans. 25 Navy ships were positioned to conduct emergency rescue, relief and medical operations. Two maritime patrol aircrafts and two helicopters are ready to conduct search operations over the Bay of Bengal and in the coastal districts. Navy contingents and special medical teams were deployed in the areas. Moreover, transport aircrafts and helicopters of Bangladesh Air Force were kept ready for quick inspection of the cyclone affected areas, damage assessments and delivery of relief services.
The Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) co-led by the MoDMR and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office met on 20 May 2020 to be ready to complement GoB-led response efforts. The Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) led by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and CARE will coordinate a rapid joint assessment of the situation in collaboration with national authorities and partners with presence in the most impacted areas. Initial reports indicate that emergency shelter assistance, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and livelihood support are required. COVID-19-sensitive community engagement materials for cyclone Amphan (including post-cyclone) are already available here.
Situation Analysis and Anticipatory Impacts Assessments were issued in the days prior cyclone landfall. It activated the Humanitarian Preparedness and Response Plan (HPRP). It also triggered pre-agreed Early Actions protocols by Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and an emergency allocation of IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for anticipatory actions to alleviate early on the distress faced by communities. Partners including Start Fund, BRAC are making immediate allocation for emergency support.
In the weeks leading up to the landfall of Cyclone Amphan, the Inter-Sector Coordination group (ISCG) – UN agencies and NGO partners – reviewed its 72-hour response plan for extreme weather events, which was developed in cooperation with the District Commissioner, local authorities in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas, the Bangladesh Armed Forces, and Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC). The Heads of Sub-Offices group and Emergency Preparedness and Response Working Group groups in Cox’s Bazar activated the “pre-alert phase” of the plan and met regularly on an emergency basis to ensure timely coordination of preparedness activities.
Following the Government’s announcement of Signal Level 9 on 20 May, Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) volunteers raised three red flags in all 34 Rohingya refugee camps. In the days prior, more than 3,400 CPP refugee volunteers had provided early warning messages to the refugee community through roving loudspeakers and speakers at mosques inside the camps. Some 90,000 households had already received tie-down kits to strengthen shelters and facilities including health and nutrition centres. A cyclone preparedness refresher training for more than 280 refugee volunteers was also conducted by Site Management partners prior to Cyclone Amphan.
In addition, humanitarian partners had prepositioned emergency stock items including food, tarpaulins, ropes, floor mats, and water purification tablets in warehouses located in Cox’s Bazar, Ukhiya, and Teknaf and containers within the camps for rapid distribution following landfall in case of need.
For more information, contact:
Henry Glorieux, Humanitarian Affairs Advisor: firstname.lastname@example.org Kazi Shahidur Rahman, Humanitarian Affairs Specialist: email@example.com