At least four million people are affected by the worst flooding in almost two decades in northeastern Bangladesh, the United Nations announced on Monday.
According to the Bangladeshi government, the floods, which began last week, submerged 70% of Sylhet district and 60% of Sunamganj, killing at least 10 people while two million people were left isolated.
Villagers take shelter in a makeshift camp built for flood victims after heavy rains in Morigaon district in the Indian state of Assam on May 23, 2022.
Torrential rains and an influx of water upstream in northeast India have swelled rivers in Bangladesh. The two main border rivers, the Surma and the Kushiara, broke the levees and flooded hundreds of villages.
Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, the head of the National Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, said the two rivers had reached their highest level since they began to be measured in the 1970s.
People cross a flooded road after heavy rain in Sylhet on May 23, 2022.
“This is one of the worst floods in the history of the northeast of the country,” he said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided an even worse toll, with “more than four million people” affected by the floods in five districts of northeast Bangladesh.
“In this disaster, as is most of the time, children are the most vulnerable,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s representative in Bangladesh.
All schools and higher education institutions have been closed in the region.
A worker fumigates a makeshift camp built for flood victims as a preventive measure against mosquito-borne diseases after heavy rains in Morigaon district in the Indian state of Assam on May 23, 2022.
At least 350 schools have been turned into shelters in which more than 8,500 people have taken refuge, often with their livestock.
But according to Netai De Sarker, a senior official managing the crisis, the situation is improving: the water is starting to withdraw from certain areas in the north, even if 1.23 million people remained blocked by the waves on Monday.
Children study at a makeshift camp built for flood victims after heavy rains in Morigaon district in the Indian state of Assam on May 23, 2022.
The government has sent 140 medical teams to treat people affected by the floods and try to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases.
Flooding is a recurring threat to millions of people in Bangladesh, located very low above sea level, and in neighboring northeast India.
Many experts believe that climate change is increasing the frequency, violence and unpredictability of such weather events.