Survival is priority: Sirajganj flood victims have no means to follow Covid-19 health rules | The Daily Star
07:01 PM, July 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:10 PM, July 03, 2020

Survival is priority: Sirajganj flood victims have no means to follow Covid-19 health rules

Around 25,000 families from five upazilas in Sirajganj are barely surviving on embankments or roads as their houses have been flooded.

Amid this plight, over 1.25 lakh flood victims hardly have means to follow guidelines to keep Covid-19 outbreak at bay.

"We can't even manage safe drinking water in the flood affected areas. We are struggling to survive, so we have no time to think about coronavirus at this moment," said Jahanara Begum, a resident of flood-hit Shuvogachha village in Kazipur upazila.

Over 500 people in the village have taken shelter at the flood protection embankment after their houses were washed away in flood water.

They have no means to maintain social distance, wash hands regularly, or use masks to prevent Covid-19 transmission. All they have are fragments of corrugated iron sheets or polythene shed on the embankment for refuge, and may be some dry food to survive for now. 

"Survival is the priority at this moment. We left everything in our flood-hit houses, and have taken shelter on the embankment. We don't have enough food," Jahanara told The Daily Star.

In some cases, two to three families are living under the same shed due to the lack of space.

In some other areas, the people are still trapped in their flood-hit houses. They also do not have any means to maintain health safety rules advised for the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Our house was flooded couple of weeks ago. The floor of the house, latrine and tube-well are all under flood water now. My family of six are still staying at home by putting bricks under the bed. We need food to survive. We don't care about health rules," Md Rafikul Islam of Boyrabari village under Belkuchi upazila told The Daily Star.

Md Abdur Rahim, relief and rehabilitation officer in Sirajganj district, however, said that a total of 172 flood shelters have already been opened in the five flood-hit upazilas of Sirajganj but nobody came to the flood-shelter and are instead living on embankment or staying in flood-hit houses.

"The flood-hit people are not following health rules anywhere in the five affected areas. We are trying to make them aware about the pandemic situation but nobody pays heed to it," the official said.

He also said they are not distributing items such as face masks, sanitiser, soap and other materials for health safety to the flood victims, adding that it is the people's own responsibility to manage the items.

Asked about any steps being taken in this regard, the official said there is no allocation for the items at this moment.

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