Photo: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Kuala Lumpur/Geneva 20 May 2020 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing for a major humanitarian response as super cyclone Amphan heads across the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.

Heavy rainfall, high winds and storm surges threaten Bangladesh’s and India’s coastlines. In Bangladesh, 14.2 million people live in the cyclone’s path, two thirds of whom are women and children. India’s Odisha State is making plans to evacuate 1.1 million people along its coastlines. While Myanmar is not in the cyclone’s direct path, heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges are also expected to affect northern parts of the country, including Rakhine state.

Early action and effective preparedness can save lives and livelihoods and IFRC is releasing funding to support Bangladesh Red Crescent, India Red Cross and Myanmar Red Cross to scale up preparedness measures to support affected communities in the direct path of cyclone Amphan.

IFRC is releasing almost 760,000 Swiss francs for early action to aid needs assessment and support vulnerable families with evacuation, emergency dry food and drinking water, first aid, safety equipment and material assistance. 

This includes more than 134,000 Swiss francs (139,000 US dollars) from IFRC’s Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will support 20,000 vulnerable people in Bangladesh with emergency dry food and drinking water, first aid, safety equipment, and transportation facilities to cyclone shelters, as well as support precautionary measures against COVID-19.

“We are concerned that Cyclone Amphan will put vulnerable communities at a dual risk during the COVID19 pandemic,” said Jess Letch, Manager of Emergency Operations at IFRC’s Regional Office for Asia Pacific.

“The COVID-19 crisis has the potential to hamper humanitarian response efforts. Our biggest challenge is going to be ensuring that the millions of people at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods get the relief and shelter they need, while doing all we can to keep them safe from the new coronavirus.”

In Bangladesh, authorities have prepared 12,000 shelters, three times as many as in previous years to help ensure physical distancing and other COVID-19 hygiene measures. In India, coronavirus quarantine centres are already being shifted further inland to accommodate the cyclone evacuees.

Thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have been mobilised across India, Bangladesh and Myanmar to share early warning messages, help communities prepare and support evacuations where needed.

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Media contacts

In Dhaka: Raqibul Alam, +880 1714 069 707, raqibul.alam@ifrc.org

In Kuala Lumpur: Ellie van Baaren, +60 12 230 8451, ellie.vanbaaren@ifrc.org

In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 7750, ann.vaessen@ifrc.org