Millions of people of the coastal districts of Bangladesh are taking stock of the devastation left by Cyclone Amphan, that dissipated on 21 May 2020. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed and many villages submerged by storm surges in low-lying coastal areas like Khulna, Satkhira, Barisal, Borguna and Potuakhali.
More than 2 million people were directly affected by Amphan across 26 districts in the divisions of Khulna and Barisal; the Bangladeshi government predicted that the country could incur a US$1.5 billion damage toll. Across 26 districts, approximately 1,100 km (680 miles) of roads and over 200 bridges were damaged.
COVID-19 and social-distancing measures made mass evacuations more difficult, with shelters unable to be used to full capacity. However, making an exception this time, the Muslim community leaders of Satkhira and Khulna district have been remained on the ground since the beginning of this calamity.
Normally, the inhabitants of these districts are Islam lovers. They are also comfortable to receive the cordial assistance of their community leaders this time. Though, it is the prime responsibility of the government to rehabilitate the victims and also to repair the damaged establishments. But this time, the Islamist people have taken the leading position in these activities.
After a month of fasting, the people of Bangladesh celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, but these people had no option to celebrate, rather they are struggling to survive. They even did not have minimum food, drinking water and necessary medicines. Their sufferings intensified as they are living in a waterlogged situation.
In many of the places across Khulna and Satkhira district, major cracks have been found in the embankments and dams. Some parts have been damaged or destroyed severely. As a result, over flow of water caused by flood tides have entered into the locality and affected the people.
Led by the local community leaders like Maulana Rabiul Bashar and Gazi Nazrul Islam, the people took the major initiatives to repair the damaged embankments. It is pathetic that, even after a month since the cyclone took place, still most of the areas are waterlogged. So, before any other assistance, this embankment needed to be repaired. Without such efforts, their can only live in their houses.
Several teams of the Muslim communities were actively on the field to operate a massive cooked meal distribution program. There were also some teams who had gone to the remote areas by passing through deep water in order to provide food to the victims. Other teams helped repair the houses and also to distribute emergency medicines and pure drinking water to the victims of the disaster.
Apparently, if the embankments are repaired, thousands of people can return to their home from the shelter centres. Amid the contagious pandemic situation, these people are being compelled to reside in the shelter centres in unhealthy ways as the roads and houses are completely submerged in water. They want to return back to their homes and this is why they are pressing the demand for repairing of embankments.
Usually, we are used to blame the Muslim community leaders for their inaction, particularly in tackling humanitarian crisis. But this time, their sincere efforts created a new spirit and enthusiasm among the people. It must be appreciated.
We are proud to see such noble and continuous efforts from our community leaders in the upcoming days.