• More than half a million people need aid after Cyclone Roanu hammered Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
  • An aid agency said many poor families lost all their assets
  • WHO warned of an increased risk of vector borne diseases

More than half a million people in Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka who were driven from their homes by heavy rains, flash floods, tidal surges and landslides brought about by Cyclone Roanu need aid, aid organizations said.

The Catholic charity Caritas, according to The Tablet, said more than 12 million people have been affected by the cyclone since it hit the South Asia region on Saturday, May 21. It said it dispatched over two hundred of its relief aircraft to help the governments in the region in assisting the displaced people.

With wind speeds reaching 90 kph (56 mph) and heavy rains, the storm hit Bangladesh after battering India and Sri Lanka, killing more than 120 people in the process and displacing millions of others.

Shakib Nabi, the head of Christian Aid in Bangladesh, said poor families lost most of their assets – not only their homes, but also their food stores, seasonal crops and vital livestock such as cows, goats and ducks.”

“Access to food, safe drinking water, health supplies and sanitation materials is limited in some villages. Water points have been ruined, ground water contaminated and agricultural land destroyed,” Nabi added.

Plan International, a child rights organization, said it “pre-positioned household materials and hygiene kits that we can dispatch to affected areas and distribute to communities in urgent need.”

“These materials will be essential as children and families affected by the cyclone, particularly those forced to leave their homes, will most likely be seeking food, shelter, basic sanitation and access to clean water,” Senait Gebregziabher, director for Plan International in Bangladesh, said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of an increased risk of vector borne diseases like malaria, water borne and diarrheal diseases, the bacterial disease leptospirosis, fungal diseases and acute respiratory infections.

“Prevention measures to combat such diseases are essential,” WHO said.