Ro­hingya refugee shel­ters ‘washed away’ in B’Desh rains: UN

The Hitavada - - HOME & ABROAD - ■ By Yoshita Singh

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)

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