Around 905,000 Rohingya, many of them children, are currently living in cramped shelters located on dangerously silty land in Cox’s Bazar having fled from violence in neighbouring Myanmar.
Stripped of vegetation and packed with makeshift huts, the terrain is highly vulnerable to the heavy rains and strong winds associated with the Bangladesh monsoon and cyclone season, with the first downpours arriving in the camps in the past few days.
The storm conditions have already claimed the life of a three-year-old boy, who died when a mud wall in his home collapsed on Monday.
An estimated 1.3 million people, including 400,000 Bangladesh host communities and 703,000 newly arrived members of the Rohingya community, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with aid agencies working around the clock to prevent deaths, disease and suffering from escalating further.
“Most people are living in flimsy tents made from bamboo and plastic tarpaulin and are already exposed to the heavy rains,” said Gillian Boyle, Logistics Coordinator for Concern in Cox’s Bazar.
“As the rains continue to fall, bringing with them the increased risk of landslides, the amount of casualties, injuries, and loss of shelter will rise significantly and services already provided to Rohingya communities will be at risk. In the past few days, the rains have been so heavy that one of the two main roads into the Kutupalong camp has been closed. It’s our job is to make sure that people in the camps are well-prepared and equipped for more rains to come and are taking necessary measures to prevent the spread of disease.”
Concern is preparing to scale-up its emergency response by building upon its existing nutrition programme and ensuring approximately 75,000 of the most vulnerable families receive vital shelter, sanitation and hygiene support.
Since the start of the emergency, Concern has screened 469,267 children under-five years of age for malnutrition at its eight outpatient therapeutic programme (OTP) centres in Cox’s Bazar, with 7,057 severe and 37,029 moderate cases of malnutrition diagnosed and treated.
“In the first 24 hours alone, there were 59 storm incidents affecting nearly 10,000 people, so we are dealing with a crisis within a crisis essentially. We are scaling-up our emergency response contingency plans to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people. Children, adolescent girls, people with disabilities and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, therefore Concern is adapting its response to be more mobile and plans to offer more outreach services.”
As part of the scale-up, Concern plans to distribute ‘dignity kits’ including menstrual cycle cloths, clothing and solar lighting to 6,000 women to help improve hygiene, sanitation and safety and to prevent the spread of disease to families.
It also plans to increase livelihood opportunities for the Rohingya families in the camps, along with 900 host community households by introducing a range of income generating activities and cash for work schemes.
For more information or interview requests contact Communications Officer, Marie Madden on 087-1205470 or email at [email protected].