Rohingyas now facing more dangers for impending monsoon: IOM

Despite escaping violence in their homeland, the impending cyclone and monsoon season mean the Rohingyas now face more life-threatening dangers from the weather and environmental conditions in Bangladesh, says the UN Migration Agency on Monday.

Most now live in extremely basic shelters in desperately overcrowded camps built on steep and precarious sandy slopes at severe risk of deadly landslides and flooding, it said.

Meanwhile, state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam, now in Cox’s Bazar, said securing the camps during rainy season is in progress. ‘The government and foreign friends are working relentlessly to finish it before the monsoon,’ he tweeted on Monday.

IOM, with UK support, is helping to provide lifesaving shelter, medical care, protection and other vital services to Rohingyas and host communities in the Cox’s Bazar area.

IOM’s emergency preparations are already being put into action and the organisation is now working with the government of Bangladesh as well as members of the local and refugee communities to help mitigate major disasters in the weeks ahead, said the IOM.

However, the UN agency said time is running out and the size of the camps and scale of the environmental challenges where they are situated means agencies and the government must be ready to response to major emergencies.

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson recently met with Rohingyas in Bangladesh and described as ‘unimaginable’ the conditions they will face when the monsoon hits their camps in coming weeks.

The British foreign secretary, who also met with state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar on Sunday promised to help after refugees broke down in tears while telling him their experiences, fears and concerns at a meeting hosted by IOM, the UN migration Agency.

More than 688,000 Rohingya have sought safety in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh since late August 2017 after fleeing violence in Myanmar, with more continuing to arrive every week.