Can’t allow monsoons to wash away Rohingyas’ hopes


The United Nations cannot allow the monsoons to wash away hopes of Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar camps, said the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

“The horrific stories of suffering in Myanmar I heard from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh last July remain vivid in my memory. A year later, their shelters are once again threatened by the monsoon season. We cannot allow the monsoons to wash away their hopes,” the UN chief tweeted.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and most of them entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdowns against Rohingyas in Rakhine State of Myanmar.

Five days of heavy rains and winds have pounded Rohingya camps in the district displacing over 2,700, damaging over 3,400 houses and leaving two people dead, said IOM, UNB reports.

“We’re only half way into the monsoon season and helped over 2,000 people in the past 72 hours. Our teams have been working round the clock,” said spokesman of International Organization for Migration (IOM) George McLeod on Monday.

Preliminary damage estimates have already exceeded those recorded in 2018, McLeod added.

The destruction – triggered by monsoon weather systems sweeping into the Bay of Bengal – saw IOM staff and volunteers working throughout the camps to repair damaged structures and relocate the hardest-hit families to emergency shelters, according to an IOM media release.

Records from rain gauges between July 3-5 in the Kutupalong mega camp showed 510 mm while camp 16 – another major settlement – recorded 530 mm.

IOM and partners, including UNHCR and WFP, have been preparing for the monsoon and cyclone season since late 2018 through infrastructure upgrades and awareness-raising campaigns in both the camps and host communities.

IOM preliminary damage data covering the period July 2-6 includes 1,186 households affected by landslides, 216 households impacted by flooding, 1,840 households affected by wind, 15,534 people affected by flooding or other safety risks, 391 landslides and 51 wind storms.