Cox's Bazar, Rohingya refugees prepare for landslides and floods: one dead (photos)
The summer monsoon is coming to the district and could bring up to 2.5 metres of rain in three months. The first victim is an 8-year-old girl. Refugees try to reinforce their homes but building in brick and mortar is not allowed since the Rohingya are seen as temporary refugees.
Cox's Bazaar (AsiaNews) – More bad news for the Rohingya, the "most persecuted refugees on earth": The Monsoon season is set to arrive in Cox's Bazar, a district of Bangladesh near Myanmar where some 700,000 people have been stuck in camps, under tents and in makeshift shelters, since August 2017.
The rest of Bangladesh too is under heavy downpours. On the border, the first heavy rains have already claimed their first victim: Adida Begum, 8.
Given the hilly nature of the area where refugees have set up their tents and built their makeshift shelters, the rain is expected to cause flooding and mudslides, leaving the Rohingya with nothing but greater chances of sickness and epidemics.
Visiting the camp of Ukhiya, home to thousands of displaced people from Myanmar, it is not uncommon to see people, young people and children reinforcing their shelters with dirt and mud.
"The rainy season is coming,” said Nura Alam, one of the refugees. “Our house is at the foot of the hill and is not built on stable ground. If there is a flood, we don’t know what will become of us."
He and his brothers brought big bags full of earth next to the house to "make our house more resistant to landslides.” However, “We do not know if this will suffice, but we must try."
Ali Islam's home is on top of Modinapahar hill. "Slides are a danger for us too. That's why I'm building a new home."
Authorities report that more than 100,000 refugees are at risk of being swept away at the first flood. Their flimsy homes are not made with very resistant material, just bamboo and waxed canvas, which are unsuitable against strong gusts of wind and rain.
Caritas Bangladesh, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other NGOs have contributed to setting up tents but building brick and mortar houses is not allowed because the Rohingya are (temporary) refugees.
The first summer monsoons are set to arrive in June and last for about three months. In general, 2.5 metres of rain fall in this period. The camps’ dusty soil will turn into swampy marshes, making it difficult to bring aid and distribute it.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called Islamic countries to help solve the issue of Muslim refugees.
On 5 May, she attended the opening session of the 45th Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.
On that occasion, she called on those present "to stand solidly beside the forcibly deported Rohingyas in safeguarding their dignity and security. [. . .] When the Rohingya community of Myanmar is being subjected to 'ethnic cleansing', the OIC fraternity cannot overlook it".