Rohingya refugee shelters ‘washed away’ in B’Desh rains: UN
HEAVY rains have caused severe structural damage to camps in Bangladesh hosting over one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, the United Nations has said.
Some 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar ’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh since August last year when the Army launched a violent crackdown, resulting in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh.
So far, more than 9,000 have been affected and the number is expected to rise as the monsoon rains, which lashed the camps for the last two days, continue, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said. More than 30,000 camp residents are still living in areas considered to be at high risk of deadly flooding and landslides, it said.
“The situation in the camps is growing more desperate with every drop of rain that falls,” said Manuel Pereira, the IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar, the district in south-east Bangladesh where the refugees have settled.
“You have close to one million people living on hilly, muddy terrain with no trees or shrubs left to hold the ground in place. People and their makeshift shelters are being washed away in the rains,” Pereira said.
For months now, UN agencies and their partners have been warning of the threat posed by the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
The rains began on Saturday and within 24 hours incidents including landslides, water logging, extreme wind and lightning strikes were recorded.
The IOM said it is “working against the clock” to secure road access and drainage, and to improve preparations for more heavy rain to come.
The UN agency and its partners are also ensuring that the refugees will continue to receive assistance such as access to water, sanitation and health. However, it warned that risks remain huge, given the vast size and the nature of the makeshift camps.
Rohingya Muslim refugees take shelter from the rain during a food distribution at Nayapara refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Ukhia district during last monsoons. (AFP File Photo)