The world has perhaps never been hungrier. Even as lockdowns are being eased in many countries, the ravages of the coronavirus continue unabated, with global cases exceeding 10 million and global death toll exceeding half a million this week. For vulnerable countries like Bangladesh, where the vast majority of populations were already poor and vulnerable to food insecurity leading up to the pandemic, this means the challenges are greater than ever. In Bangladesh, the numbers of infections and deaths are growing every day. And the government's desperate move to reopen the economy has been of little comfort as a rising number of the poor and newly poor are being forced to leave cities, stripped of basic income opportunities. Against this backdrop, citizens-led humanitarian initiatives besides the official programmes have emerged as vital to saving lives.
One such initiative is an on-campus feeding programme by a group of students of the University of Dhaka, which reportedly came to a close on Tuesday, after a 100-day run. Led by a former member of the DUCSU, these students have been providing food to the poor every day since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown on March 26. In their bid they were assisted by friends, teachers, alumni as well as politicians. Now that the lockdown was lifted, they announced an end to the feeding project but vowed to continue their work in other ways. We congratulate the students for their noble effort to serve the underprivileged groups. This is a great example of community service that deserves to be duly emulated. As the pandemic continues to shine a bright light both on nobility and on ugliness, such initiatives by students and other volunteer groups show us that while there is a lot to grieve over, there is also a lot to be hopeful about—the selfless courage of those on the front lines, the quiet, unacknowledged help being extended by ordinary people.
But the pandemic is far from over and the government's lifting of the lockdown didn't have its desired impact, as the employment sector shrinks and those in the informal sector continue to suffer without food and necessary supplies. This means there is a continued need for such initiatives by individuals, associations, voluntary organisations and student bodies, and all should come forward to overcome this huge humanitarian crisis facing us today. Even simple initiatives like cooking a little extra for those in need, or organising over social media to initiate more coordinated efforts, can go a long way in alleviating the sufferings of the needy. We urge the affluent sections of society to come forward in this regard.