2.5m people internally displaced in Bangladesh in Jan-June: IDMC

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Over 2.5 million people were internally displaced in Bangladesh in the first six months of 2020 due to natural disasters, pandemic and economic hardship, according to a global report released on Wednesday by Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

They are the part of about 14.6 million new victim of internal displacements recorded in 127 countries and territories between January and June.

‘The staggering figures recorded in the first six months of the year are testament to the persistent volatility of displacement crises worldwide,’ IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said during the release of the report.

Sudden and slow-onset disasters triggered 9.8 million new displacements in the first half of 2020, according to IDMC.

Cyclone Amphan, which led to the pre-emptive evacuation of 3.3 million people in India and Bangladesh, was the largest event. Preliminary estimates indicate that as many as 2.8 million homes were damaged or destroyed in West Bengal, and another one lakh people are thought to have been left homeless in Bangladesh. ‘This suggests that many of those displaced are likely to remain so for prolonged periods,’ the report said.

It reveals that many people living in areas exposed to disasters from North America to South Asia are reluctant to leave their home for fear of contracting COVID-19 in evacuation centres.

‘It is extremely worrying to report numbers this high so early in the year, particularly as we know that the majority of weather-related hazards in 2020 are still to come,’ said Bilak.

The international community must support governments in reversing these trends and finding long-term solutions to displacement, she added.

Some 210 people were internally displaced in Bangladesh due to conflict, the report said.

Most of the internally displaced people went to nearer towns and cities for survival and livelihood, Khondoker Mokaddam Hossain of the Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies told New Age on Wednesday.

Climate-induced disasters including cyclone, storms, recurrent flood, river erosion, landslide on hills, biological disaster including pandemic and subsequent income loss were the major drivers of internal displacement this year, he said

Income loss has forced thousands of people to leave their usual place of living for livelihood in COVID-19 pandemic situation, he added.

Thousands of people lost lands and house in river erosions caused by rise of river-beds and unplanned constructions in areas in all major river basins, including Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra, he said.

A good number of them were displaced due to prolonged flood in 33 districts, damage of embankments during cyclone Amphan, and inundation of char lands in riverine districts, he added.

At least 20 million people are also at risk of displacement, Mokaddam said.

Disaster management and relief secretary Md Mohsin, however, claimed that the number of actual number of people displaced by disaster would be much less.

The government has taken measures for providing houses for people, who lost houses in riverbank erosion, safe drinking water in saline-prone areas and some other measures for internally displaced people, he added.

Mokaddam stressed the need for effective measures for increasing navigability of the rivers, correcting structural impediments on river-flows and introducing measures for ensuring sustainable livelihoods by encouraging people for self-employment to discourage mass-displacement of people from across the country. 

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