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Spectre of famine haunts Sajek: 2 die

chtnews.com
News No. 53/2008, March 19, 2008

The spectre of famine continues to haunt Sajek, a frontier region in Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Reports said severe crisis of food, triggered by last year’s failure of Jum crops due to a deluge of rats following the flowering of bamboos, has led to the death of at least two Jummas in Tuichui Mouza under Sajek Union. Lila Mohan Tripura (40) and Kiron Mala Tripura (42) died after starving for days on end in the first week of this month, reports Prothom Alo, a Bengali daily, published from Dhaka.

UNDP is providing food assistance to the poor Jumia families in the affected areas including Sajek, said the report.

Quoting UNDP officials the daily said at least 3 thousand families have been affected in Sajek.

The Chttagram Manch, a regional daily published from Chittagong, said about 3 hundred Jumma families have already crossed into Mizoram state of India in search of food and work.

Since August last year NGOs and media have been warning the government of an impending humanitarian disaster as a consequence of the sudden deluge of rats in CHT. But ironically the government continues to remain apathetic, alleged Sugata Chakma, a member of the UPDF in Baghaichari.

“The government is yet wake up to the crisis” he said adding that the shortage of food have reached to such an extent that “money does not ensure that you will get food”.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry disbursed a meager amount of Taka 15 lakhs to deal with the crisis. But it is too little and too late.

“It is like a small drop of water in the vast ocean” commented a JSS leader in Rangamati.

“What we need is emergency food aid to be sent to the affected areas without further delay. Given the remoteness and geographical conditions of the area, it is only the government which can effectively deal with the issue. Others such as UNDP, NGOs and civil society members can just complement the government efforts.” said central committee member of the UPDF, Ms Samari Chakma.

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