UNICEF Bangladesh National Ambassador Bidya Sinha Mim, who visited Sylhet this week, has said the stories she heard from children and their parents in Sylhet are heart-rending.
She visited Sylhet to meet children whose lives were upended by floods that wreaked havoc in north-eastern Bangladesh in May and June this year.
“They have shown incredible resilience even as their lives have been turned upside down by the floods, and we must continue to stand by them and support their recovery,” said Mim after speaking to children at Gowainghat upazila.
The extensive flooding led to a food, water and sanitation crisis and disrupted the lives of 7.2 million people, including 3.5 million children.
Families had no option but to leave their belonging and take emergency shelter while medical facilities and hundreds of schools were damaged.
Ten-year-old Najimul, one of the children Mim met, told her: “I did not understand what was happening when the waters started coming into our home. My clothes, books and everything in our home was washed away. I would have been washed away too if we had not left for a school-turned-shelter. I did not eat anything for three or four days, until we were given dry food at the shelter.”
Months after the waters receded, millions of families are still reeling from the devastation. UNICEF supported the government’s flood emergency response by providing urgent safe water, sanitation, safety, health and nutrition supplies and services, and by prioritizing the protection of children from drowning, separation, violence, diseases and abuse.
To date, more than one million people – 40 percent of whom are children – have benefitted from UNICEF’s continuing assistance.
During her two-day tour, Mim saw first-hand how UNICEF contributes to the restoration of flood-damaged latrines, water points, schools and health facilities. Mim also met with social workers who spoke about their support to children and their families after the floods.
“Mim’s visit reminds us of that even after the waters recede, children remain at risk from flooding and other emergencies related to climate change in Bangladesh,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.
“Today, Mim gives voice to the plight of children who – months after the emergency – are still facing difficulties and need support,” Yett added.
Mim, who was appointed as UNICEF’s National Ambassador in Bangladesh in May 2022, also visited children and adolescents in Sylhet, including in a tea garden and a UNICEF-supported adolescent club.