Bangladesh navy searches for 81 fishermen still missing after Mora cyclone

  • As World ignores displaced Africans, dash hopes of peace – aid agency

Bangladesh’s navy on Thursday intensified search 81 fishermen still missing after the devastating cyclone which killed several people and left thousands homeless.

Sixty-three of the 144 fishermen, had however, been rescued from the Bay of Bengal.

“Bangladesh Naval Force rescued 33 and Indian Naval Force rescued 30,” said Mostaque Ahmed, Head of the Cox’s Bazar Mechanized Fishing Boat Owners Association.

Cyclone Mora, with wind up to 135 kph (85 mph) and heavy rain, hit south-east Bangladesh around Cox’s Bazaar and the border with neighbouring Myanmar on Tuesday, leaving thousands of Rohingya refugees in ruined camps.

The Rohingyas have fled from their homes in north-west Myanmar to escape communal violence and Myanmar army crackdown.

The Bangladeshi government has estimated that in all, there are no fewer than 350,000 Rohingyas in the country following a new influx last October, when Myanmar army launched an offensive in response to insurgent attacks.

Authorities in Cox’s Bazar and neighbouring Chittagong district evacuated 350,000 people from low-lying areas before the storm roared in from the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday.
“Though the fishermen were rescued, most of the boats, the main instrument for our survival are totally damaged and it is not possible to get them replaced quickly as we are not solvent.

“Still we are grateful to the government as now the air force with helicopters is searching the remaining missing fishermen,” Ahmed said.

Cyclone Mora formed after monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in Sri Lanka, off India’s southern tip, killing 202 people in recent days, authorities said.

In the meantime, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an aid agency, says the world pays the least attention to humanitarian crises when they force Africans from their homes, dashing hopes of peace and increasing the risk of radicalisation.

Central African Republic (CAR) topped the NRC annual list of neglected displacement crises.

It was followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, Myanmar and Somalia.

“The fact that most of these people do not turn up at our doorsteps gives us no right to close our eyes to their suffering, and does not remove our responsibility to assist,” the NRC’s Secretary-General Jan Egeland said in a statement.

“Economic support to alleviate humanitarian crises must be given based on needs, and not … geopolitical interests.”

The aid agency said limited political will to achieve peace, scant media attention and a lack of aid funding mean crises are likely to worsen and trigger even more displacement.

Also, Richard Skretteberg of the NRC said that chronic conflict involving militias in countries such as Central African Republic and Congo could drive more and more people into armed groups.

He said: “when you combine limited state presence in much of these countries, mass displacement, and a lack of protection and aid for civilians, this creates a fertile breeding ground for radicalisation.

“Rebuilding and working towards peace are difficult when so many people are displaced.”

The aid agency said one in five Central Africans, about a million people, are displaced, and at least 100,000 were newly uprooted in May in some of the worst violence between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias since conflict began in 2013.

According to the NRC, spreading ethnic violence in Congo has forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes within the country this year, more than triple the number uprooted within Syria and five times the number within Iraq.

The UN has received just a fifth of the 812.5 million dollars sought in the humanitarian appeal for Congo this year, and 25 per cent of the 400 million dollars requested for CAR, the UN’s Financial Tracking Service.

Africa’s arid Sahel belt, which stretches from Senegal to Eritrea and lies south of the Sahara desert, topped the NRC’s index in 2016, followed by Yemen and Libya.