At least 19 million children in Bangladesh and India are at imminent risk from flash flooding, storm surges and heavy rain due to cyclone Amphan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.
“UNICEF is also very concerned that COVID-19 could deepen the humanitarian consequences of Cyclone Amphan in both countries,” the company said in a statement.
“Evacuees who have moved to crowded temporary shelters would be especially vulnerable to the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19, as well as other infections,” it added.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
“The safety of children and their families in the areas that will be impacted is a priority and it is good to see that the authorities have planned their urgent response factoring in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.
UNICEF also said that it is working with the authorities in Bangladesh to protect people affected by the cyclonic storm.
“UNICEF is working with the Deputy Commissioner’s Office in Cox’s Bazar, the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, and humanitarian partners to help ensure Bangladeshi and Rohingya children and families remain protected,” the company said.
“These efforts include raising awareness among Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities on cyclone preparedness and prepositioning emergency life-saving water, sanitation, hygiene and medical supplies to meet immediate humanitarian needs,” it added.
UNICEF also said that it is working closely with the governments of Bangladesh and India and stands ready to support humanitarian operations to reach children and families affected by Cyclone Amphan.