Help the freezing poor
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Bangladesh is sweeping the country with the bitter bite in the northern districts. At least 14 people have already died from exposure to extreme cold and many have fallen sick. They are all poor, homeless, street sleepers and others who cannot afford to buy a warm cloth, don't have a rug or "kantha" to cover themselves at night. Some of them are malnourished and uncared for in the society and ignored by the state.
Bangladesh has a humanitarian government headed by "mother of humanity" Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Politicians, businessmen and many others in the country are extremely rich with money and wealth acquired legally and illegally. They should immediately come out to help the people suffering and dying from the unbearable chilly winter, having 2.6 degree Celsius recorded at Tetulia on Monday.
Weather officials predict the cold wave will last one or two more days, but their prediction is sometimes wrong. So without relying on their forecast and waiting for the chill to be over soon everyone, especially in the government and ruling party and the wealthy people should come forward with necessary help including warm clothes to distribute among the cold beaten people.
Similarly, the opposition politicians and business people should extend their helping hands without waiting and blaming the government for doing nothing or doing less. Besides, ordinary citizens who can afford money or even old clothes should give those to the poor now.
But this needs to be done through a coordinated effort. Otherwise, most of the donated clothing would end up in old clothes markets now doing brisk business with the advent of the worst winter in our country.
Bangladesh is going to have a parliamentary election by the end of this year or a little later and now is the time for all likely stakeholders in the polls to reach to the people, especially the poor, and convince them to vote for their parties by giving out aid including winter clothes. Many poor cannot work in this cold and they have resultantly nothing to eat. We should try to give them food and money as whatever we can so they will survive the blast of winter.
At this point, we cannot forget the Rohingya refugees huddled in makeshift camps in Cox's Bazar and neighbouring areas. They are living a tattered life after being driven out of Myanmar in one of world's worst army crackdown and act of ethnic cleansing. Bangladesh has sheltered them, but it alone cannot afford to feed all these nearly 700,000 refugees or keep them warm and protected. Cold related diseases have become widespread in the camps. They need immediate medical help as well as food and clothes.
Outside the camps, poverty is still widespread across the country of 160 million people. They should be properly taken care of, especially at times of natural disaster. The savage winter is of course a natural disaster and needs to be addressed properly.