Cholera next threat for the Ro­hingya

Bangkok Post - - ASIA -

YAN­GON: Con­di­tions in crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh have de­te­ri­o­rated for nearly 700,000 Ro­hingya as aid work­ers race to strengthen shel­ters ahead of mon­soon sea­son, the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Red Cross and Red Cres­cent So­ci­eties said.

Steve McAn­drew, head of its emer­gency op­er­a­tions in the coastal area, said its clin­ics were scal­ing up to com­bat pos­si­ble out­breaks of cholera and other wa­ter-borne dis­eases feared with the rains that could ar­rive this month.

Des­per­a­tion has grown among the Mus­lim Ro­hingya, who fled a mil­i­tary crack­down last Au­gust in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state and many see scant chance of re­turn­ing, he said in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

“It’s hot, it’s hard to find wa­ter and food, and the con­di­tions are get­ting worse. And they are go­ing to con­tinue to get worse as the rainy sea­son comes and then we have a mon­soon sea­son and cyclone sea­son,” McAn­drew said.

“The sit­u­a­tion is get­ting worse, and it’s open-ended and there is no end in sight,” he added.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said last week that con­di­tions in Myan­mar were not ready for the safe re­turn of the Ro­hingya.

The group is flee­ing a “hor­ren­dous” sit­u­a­tion, McAn­drew said, while de­clin­ing to ap­por­tion blame.

“Peo­ple are los­ing their fam­i­lies, their vil­lages are be­ing de­stroyed. A lot of the peo­ple are say­ing they don’t even want to know what’s go­ing on back home any­more. They seem to have just de­cided they will not go home.”

His agency is re­in­forc­ing the flimsy bam­boo and plas­tic struc­tures in which the Ro­hingya live in Cox’s Bazar so they can with­stand the rains, and a new site is be­ing pre­pared for those most at risk, McAn­drew said.

“We be­lieve we can move around 25,000 fam­i­lies by about the first of May... We have satel­lite maps of the po­ten­tial flood zones and gul­lies,” he said.

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