Published:  01:05 AM, 20 September 2023

Bangladesh Stands by Disaster-Hit Countries

Bangladesh Stands by Disaster-Hit Countries
Arafat Islam Joy

All disasters are unexpected. Some of them come out of the blue, and even modern technology cannot do much to tackle them. The aftermath of disasters has an adverse sociological and economic impact on the whole environment. In recent years, it has become more frequent because of climate change all over the world. Bangladesh is prone to natural disasters due to its location on the Ganges Delta and the many tributaries flowing into the Bay of Bengal. Following this, Bangladesh has always been at greater risk of such natural hazards, despite its development.

Previously, Bangladesh had faced some severe natural calamities. Such natural disasters cause heavy damage to live, goods, and properties. In those hard times, many countries stood beside Bangladesh in every possible way. This humanitarian support helped our country move on stronger. Although Bangladesh is considered a third-world country, it also tried to support countries that were in distress. A disaster like an earthquake or a flash flood gives us no alertness or time to prepare for it; we are still helpless to nature in those events. But effective measures and support from external countries can play a vital role in the mitigation of the suffering of lives and the loss of goods and properties.

The terrible flood in eastern Libya

A catastrophic flood has killed more than 11,300 people in the eastern Libyan city of Derna, sweeping away entire neighborhoods with their residents and washing many bodies out to sea. Tens of thousands of people are missing.After pummeling other Mediterranean countries, the powerful Storm Daniel swept into Libya, unleashing record amounts of rain as it made landfall. Storm Daniel hit all of eastern Libya, but Derna was hit the hardest. At least six Bangladeshi nationals living in the city of Darna in Libya have died due to the impact of Cyclone Daniel.

Poor infrastructure in Libya made the devastating flooding Storm Daniel brought worse. In Derna, which has an estimated population of at least 120,000, entire districts were swept away or buried in brown mud after two dams south of the city broke on Sunday night, unleashing torrents of floodwater down a usually dry riverbed. Two dams burst after heavy rainfall, causing an avalanche of mud and debris to shoot into the city, covering streets and making buildings collapse. So far, more than 5,000 dead bodies have been recovered in the eastern part of the country.People in the flood-hit city of Derna are living through "doomsday" now.

“After every storm, there is a rainbow” is not what we saw in Libya. But countries from different regions showed physical and verbal support for the situation in Libya gave hope to the distressed people. Relief is sent to the affected areas, and special funds are delivered to valid authorities. The United Nations launched an appeal for more than $71 million to assist hundreds of thousands in need and warned that the "extent of the problem" remains unclear. International aid is arriving in Libya from the UN, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries, offering some relief to thousands after flooding submerged the port city of Derna. Saudi Arabia announced the departure of its first aid flight to Libya, and Russia said the third of its aid flights had arrived carrying a mobile hospital. Apart from this, countries like Italy, China, Bangladesh, India, Germany, Greece, Israel, Iran, Japan, and Spain have also promised cooperation. Middle Eastern and African countries have also extended their support to Libya.

Response from Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep condolences to victims and those missing in Libya due to the Mediterranean storm Daniel. She expressed her sincere condolences for the significant loss of life, extensive destruction of property, and loss of means of subsistence in a letter she signed and addressed to Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohamed Al-Dabaiba on behalf of the people and government of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, as a country that knows the suffering of post-disaster, has organized an immediate response to disaster-hit Libya. The Bangladesh government's humanitarian assistance in the wake of Cyclone Daniel and catastrophic flooding in Libya was handed over to the representatives of the Libyan government. Bangladesh's Ambassador to Libya, Major General Hasnat, handed over this assistance to Issa Al Falla, a member of the board of the Humanitarian Relief Agency in Libya.Earlier, a C-130J aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force carrying humanitarian assistance for the disaster-affected people of Libya arrived in Benghazi on Friday. As per the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the foreign ministry coordinated with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the Armed Forces Division to send humanitarian assistance.

Previously, in February 2023, Bangladesh organized an immediate response to disaster-hit Turkey and Syria. For the first time, a rescue team from Bangladesh has gone abroad to participate in rescue operations in earthquake-ravaged Turkey. Immediately after the earthquake, Bangladesh sent a 61-member rescue team, including 2,000 tents, several thousand blankets, dry food, medicine, and a medical team, to Turkey. Also in Syria, the government of Bangladesh has sent 11 tons of goods, including medicines, sweaters, dry cakes, biscuits, blankets, and tents, to the victims of the earthquake.

In June 2022, Bangladesh sent a substantial amount of emergency relief in the form of dry food (biscuits, noodles, and powdered milk) to the government of Afghanistan for the Afghan earthquake victims. Over a thousand Afghans were killed, over 2000 were seriously injured, and thousands of homes were destroyed in a strong earthquake that hit the eastern region of Afghanistan. Bangladesh also sent humanitarian aid to disaster-hit neighboring countries and some African countries.

Bangladesh did what it could

For a long time, Bangladesh held an image of poverty, deprivation, and corruption in the minds of many states. This negative image in fact overlooks Bangladesh’s humanitarian activities both in earthquake-affected countries as well as other disaster-hit countries, often when other more affluent and resource-equipped nations have not risen to the humanitarian need of the hour. Bangladesh’s timely humanitarian approach can contribute effectively to averting the acute shortage of food, shelter, and social services, ensuring basic socio-economic support to Libya, and rebuilding the country. It is evidence of the Bangladesh government’s commitment to regional brotherhood, humanitarianism, the integrated development of South Asia and the Muslim world, and its policy of cooperation towards everyone, regardless of strategic geopolitical alignments. In this disaster-prone climate, support comes before anything during any catastrophic event.Bangladesh is looking at deeper integration with its neighbors, ultimately branding Bangladesh positively by building its image globally. Despite its many shortcomings, Bangladesh sets an excellent humanitarian example.

Arafat Islam Joy has completed graduation in International
Relations from Dhaka University.

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