Although the flood waters have started receding in Sylhet and Sunamganj areas, the suffering of the people has not eased. Many of those who took shelter in the relief camps were unable to return home due to the floods. Media reports show relief camps are facing severe food shortage.

According to Prothom Alo correspondents who have visited the flood-hit areas, relief supplies have reached the city and the surrounding areas. But very few supplies have reached the remote areas. This has caused scarcity of food in the relief camps in remote areas. Even outside the relief camps, millions of people are starving to death.

According to government data, 4.5 million people across the country are flood affected. 440,000 people have taken shelter in 1474 relief camps. The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has allocated 812 tonnes of rice, 13,118 packets of dry food and Tk 14.2 million in Sylhet district till Tuesday morning. In Sunamganj, 770 tonnes of rice, 13,000 packets of dry food and Tk 13 million have been allocated.

Besides, in Moulvibazar district 210 tonnes of rice, Tk 1.8 million and 1700 packets of dry food and in Habiganj 40 tonnes of rice, Tk 500000 and 2000 packets of dry food have been allocated. Each affected person received 440 grams of rice and Tk 6.50. If the entire relief supplies are allocated for the residents of the relief camp, they will get 4.88 kg of rice and Tk 73.75 per person respectively.

This allocation is paltry sum. In addition to public administration, the government has deployed the army, air force and navy to deal with floods and save endangered people. The gravity of the situation can easily be assumed by this. But we have noticed from the beginning that many distressed people have been deprived of relief supplies due to lack of discipline in the distribution of relief items.

Ten people were injured while trying to retrieve relief supplies from a helicopter, one of whom later died at the hospital. Many non-governmental organisations have complained that they want to help flood victims. But they do not have the means to transport relief supplies to remote areas. Local administration did not perform their duty in this regard. How can the people concerned avoid responsibility for this failure?

This time there has been a terrible flood in Sylhet region. Not only were millions of people stranded, but air, train and road communications were also snapped. The kind of initiative needed to save millions of flood-affected people was not seen. Although the administration showed some activity after prime minister Sheikh Hasina visited the affected areas, most of the people's representatives remain sluggish.

No matter how scarce the government relief materials are, whether the people's representatives go to the area or not, hopefully, the public and various voluntary organisations have come forward to protect the affected people. They are also helping as much as they can. We want to thank them. At the same time, we call upon the wealthy to come forward. Let’s not forget the age old tradition of Bangladesh where people stand by each other and extend help to the destitute.