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Persistent monsoon rains and cyclone season could threaten Rohingya refugees

Press release21 September 2017

Concern Worldwide has today warned that persistent monsoon rains followed by the impending cyclone season could risk the lives of thousands of Rohingya people setting up temporary camps in Bangladesh.

Rohingya refugees. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Rohingya refugees. Photo: Concern Worldwide
  • Concern providing 31,000 Rohingyas with food and nutrition assistance, aiming to reach an additional 78,000 including children and pregnant women
  • Aid worker describes ‘quagmire of chaos’ in trying to assess and reach people
  • Rains and cyclone season could impede aid work and wash away temporary camps and cause outbreak of water-borne diseases

An estimated 420,000 vulnerable Rohingyas have poured into the Cox’s Bazar area of south eastern Bangladesh ever since violence erupted in Rakhine State, Myanmar last month.

The Irish aid agency is currently providing food assistance to around 31,000 Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar region of south eastern Bangladesh and is mobilising additional resources so that approximately 78,000 refugee children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women can also receive life-saving nutritional support.

While the humanitarian needs are massive, Concern fears that monsoon rain and the impending cyclone season will severely hamper the emergency response and potentially wipe out the makeshift settlements for thousands of Rohingyas seeking refuge.

Head of Emergency Operations Ros O’Sullivan, who is currently assessing the crisis in Cox’s Bazar, said lives are at risk.

Monsoon rains are continuing to wreak havoc for aid workers providing assistance and for the people living in the makeshift settlements that inundate the roadsides and dot the hillsides on the main road south of Ukiah town in Ukiah Upazilla. They are not far from where the established camp and makeshift settlements of Kutupalong are located so the area is getting very over-populated. The rains and floods are making aid distribution extremely difficult and is slowing down the assessment of people’s needs and our ability to reach them effectively.

Mr O’Sullivan said the monsoon rains coupled with the crisis, has transformed the area of Cox’s Bazar into a ‘quagmire of chaos’ as the Rohingya people set up camp everywhere to shelter. He also fears this could spark an outbreak of water-borne diseases.

We see refugees many trudging through muddy, flooded areas, with water up to their waist, carrying their belongings and children covered in mud to get to where their makeshift dwellings are located, it is literally a quagmire of chaos. Most have arrived with virtually nothing but their lives and the lives of their children. The rains will still be with us for a few more weeks and this will be followed soon by the cyclone season, which, could potentially wash away many of the makeshift camps and will put thousands of lives at risk as they have nowhere else to go. With so many people huddled into one area, there’s a huge risk of water-borne diseases breaking out like cholera so it is important funds get into Bangladesh to ensure people have access to food, water and shelter in a safe and clean environment,” he said.

Ireland’s largest NGO, which has worked in Bangladesh since 1970, is already assisting thousands of people impacted by last month’s monsoon floods, which have affected eight million people and has left impoverished families homeless.

Jamna feeding her daughter Shanti

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