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Volume 696: debated on Tuesday 20 November 2007

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Douglas Alexander) has made the following Statement.

Tropical Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh on 15 and 16 November. The death toll is uncertain but likely to rise to about 10,000 people. Some 300,000 houses have been destroyed. Many crops have been destroyed and large tracts of agricultural land damaged. This will make livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of farmers difficult for at least the next six months. Government and relief organisations are providing emergency relief in the affected areas. In total, around US$25 million has been promised to the Government and NGOs from the international community.

Although the cyclone has had a devastating impact on people, the casualties and damage would have been much worse without the early warning system and contingency measures taken by the authorities. The Government of Bangladesh have acted promptly to bring relief to the affected people and the UK is glad to be supporting this response.

The Department for International Development has announced a contribution of £2.5 million for immediate cyclone relief efforts. The money is being channelled through the UN and will help to provide food, water, medical treatment and housing repairs. A rapid UN assessment is being completed in the next 48 hours. We will consider our response to additional needs identified, monitor delivery in conjunction with the UN and help the Government of Bangladesh. Further funding will be considered over the next few months.