The European Union is providing €1.65 million in humanitarian aid funding in response to severe flooding that have affected South Asia — most notably Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
The support comes on top of the €1.8 million announced earlier this year to support families affected by a series of disasters, including Cyclone Amphan that ravaged India and Bangladesh in May, bringing the total EU support to victims of disasters in the region to €3.45 million, said the EU Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The flooding has affected some 17.5 million people, wiping out homes, livelihoods such as livestock and agricultural lands, and destroying vital infrastructure, including roads, hospitals and schools.
“The monsoon rains across South Asia have been particularly devastating this year and this urgent contribution will help our humanitarian partners on the ground in providing crucial support to those who have lost their shelters, belongings and sources of livelihood,” said Taheeni Thammannagoda, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Asia and the Pacific.
“Focusing on the worst affected countries, we’re providing the means for people to survive through this difficult time so that they can get back on their feet as soon as possible.”
Out of the total funding, €1 million will be dedicated to addressing the urgent humanitarian needs in Bangladesh, where over two million people are in need of food assistance, water, sanitation, hygiene and emergency shelter. Some 850,000 remain displaced, a figure expected to increase as rains continue.
A further €500,000 will be used in India to provide food and livelihood assistance, emergency relief supplies, and water and sanitation services.
So far, this year’s monsoon rains have impacted at 10.9 million and has amplified people’s vulnerabilities as they struggle to tackle the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In Nepal, €150,000 will be used to address the pressing need for water and sanitation, shelter and essential household items following the displacement of thousands of people after the rains unleashed devastating landslides across the country.
The funding is part of the EU’s Acute Large Emergency Response Tool (ALERT).
Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be incorporated in all programming.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has prayed for quick recovery of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
In a message sent to Mukherjee's office, Dr Momen described him as a great friend of Bangladesh.
The Foreign Minister said he had the opportunity to meet Mukherjee when he was a Minister during 1973-1974.
"My first visit was to India after I had taken over responsibility as Foreign Minister," Dr Momen said.
He said he visited Mukherjee's official residence with his wife and invited him to join Bangabandhu's birth centenary celebrations.
"I expect he will soon visit Bangladesh after recovering quickly" said the Foreign Minister.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam also prayed for speedy recovery of former President of India and one of the greatest friends of Bangladesh who went through a brain surgery and tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier, Pranab Mukherjee confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19.
"On a visit to the hospital for a separate procedure, I have tested positive for COVID19 today. I request the people who came in contact with me in the last week, to please self isolate and get tested for COVID-19," he tweeted.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller and his team on Monday provided essential personal protective equipment (PPE) to Inspector General Prisons Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha as part of continued US support for Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response efforts.
This is the sixth in a series of planned PPE distributions from the United States to Bangladesh.
The United States, through multiple agencies, including the US Departments of State, Defense, and Agriculture; USAID; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has so far provided over $56.5 million in aid to combat COVID-19 in Bangladesh.
The US Embassy-donated equipment delivered on Monday included 10,000 reusable cloth masks, 200 full hazardous materials suits, 50 KN95 surgical masks, 660 200-milliliter bottles of hand sanitizer, 11,000 pairs of surgical gloves, 25 Kg of powdered bleach, 2 disinfectant backpack sprayers, 100 face shields, and 10 infrared thermometers, all of which the United States purchased locally from Bangladeshi companies.
The Bangladesh Prison Directorate is a critical partner in safeguarding a vulnerable population against COVID-19 and in Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response, as the Directorate supports the public and Ministry of Health (MoH) initiatives throughout the country.
This PPE donation helps ensure corrections officers remain protected while they promote the safety and security of all people living in Bangladesh, said the US Embassy in Dhaka.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the US government, through the US Department of State and USAID alone, has committed more than $1.6 billion worldwide in emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and NGOs fight the pandemic.
Bangladesh has sent "emergency supplies" to Lebanon for the people of Beirut as a token of friendship who are trying to recover from the damage caused by the huge twin explosions.
Bangladesh Airforce carried a C130 full of emergency supplies which reached Beirut on Monday.
It has been planned to bring back stranded Bangladeshi citizens by the same aircraft, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam tweeted on Monday.
The goodwill aid includes nine tonnes of food items, two tonnes of medicines and medical supplies, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The transport aircraft of Bangladesh Air Force carrying the goodwill aid; and four high level officers of Bangladesh Navy, an officer of Bangladesh Army and 12 crew member of Bangladesh Air Force reached Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon on Monday.
Ambassador of Bangladesh to Lebanon Major General Md. Jahangir Al Mustahidur Rahman handed over the goodwill aid to the nominated local representative of the Lebanese government.
The officials of Lebanese Defense Ministry, UNIFIL and Embassy officials were present.
During this difficult time in Lebanon, the government of Bangladesh sent the goodwill aid for the people of Lebanon on behalf of the people of Bangladesh.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh decided to send emergency food like rice, biscuits and other dry foods to Lebanon. "The aircraft will fully be loaded with dry foods."
Foreign Minister Dr Momen talked to Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe on Wednesday and said Bangladesh stands ready to provide any emergency support to Lebanon.
He expressed gratitude to the government of Lebanon for providing necessary supports including treatment to Bangladeshis who got injured.
Five Bangladeshi nationals were killed and more than 100 including 21 members of Bangladesh Navy injured in the explosions.
The blast killed more than 160 people, injured more than 6,000 people and left more than 300,000 homeless.
Bangladesh Navy's warship, BNS Bijoy which patrols Lebanese water territory under UNIFIL, was partially damaged.
The Embassy also urged all to inform it through its hotline number if they come to know of any more casualties.
Some 1,50,000 Bangladesh nationals work in a number of sectors in Lebanon.
Hospitals were overwhelmed — one that was damaged in the blast had to evacuate all its patients to a nearby field for treatment.
Also read: 100 killed, 4,000 injured in Beirut blast
Buildings were damaged for miles around the city, and Beirut’s governor said Wednesday that hundreds of thousands might not be able to return to their homes for two or three months.
Bangladesh will soon start working on restoring and preserving the historic Panam City based on a report to be submitted by Indian research team.
"An Indian research team visited Panam City and we’re waiting for their report," State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid said during his meeting with outgoing Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das on Monday.
Significant issues between the two neighbours, including cooperation for the preservation of archaeologically significant monuments and improving the cultural relationship, were discussed in the meeting at his secretariat office.
Khalid sought India’s technical assistance to rebuild and regain historical architectures including museums and monuments.
Riva Ganguly assured that India is ready to provide all necessary assistance through conducting training, seminars, workshops etc and these can be virtually arranged during the pandemic.
Experts on the research team have opined that the restoration of Panam City should be crafted with proper utilisation of local elements, she informed the State Minister.
“Bangladesh and India are part of history and culture. Some 11,000 Indian soldiers received martyrdom during our Liberation War in 1971. Remembering those Indian martyrs and their historic involvement in the war, Bangladesh is building a cenotaph heading towards the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence,” Khalid said.
He hoped that all scheduled cultural programmes reflecting Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s eventful life, in celebration of his birth centenary in the ongoing ‘Mujib Borsho’, will take place in several states of India once the coronavirus situation improves.
The Indian envoy said that the ongoing development project at the Shilaidah Kuthibari in Kushtia, a place with reminiscing memories of Rabindranath Tagore - is about to get completed.
The total landscape of the monument would be changed once the project is completed.
Aside from the main building, a set of additional structures including a high-quality rest house, a well-equipped modern library and cafeteria as well as documentation centre, open stage theatre and some other infrastructural projects are being completed with Indian funding.
“We’re also conducting several cultural programmes observing ‘Mujib Borsho’ through virtual platforms and arrangements,” Riva Ganguly told Khalid.
Thanking the outgoing High Commissioner for assisting in several sectors in Bangladesh’s cultural sphere, the State Minister said the people of Bangladesh have been fortunate to get such a deserving, qualified and cordial High Commissioner.
He congratulated Riva Ganguly for being nominated as the next Secretary (ASEAN) of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Ministry of Cultural Affairs’ Additional Secretary (cultural heritage) Sabiha Parvin, Joint Secretary Md Fahimul Islam and Personal Secretary of the State Minister Md Jahidul Islam were also present.