A Rohingya youth was killed as a tree fell on him on Tuesday amid strong wind and heavy monsoon rainfall that continued to add to the miseries of other Rohingyas living in camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh fleeing ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state of Myanmar.
Conditions in the Rohingya camps further deteriorated as torrential rains that began on Saturday continued to trigger landslides and flooding, said UN agency International Organisation for Migration.
Rohingyas said that large areas of the camp went under water following the downpour and fear was growing about further landsides in the one of the congested and largest refugee camps in the world.
Most of the Rohingyas are living on hill slopes, destroying trees and loosening the soil structure.
UNHCR said that torrential rain and wind up to 70 kilometres per hour caused at least 89 reported incidents, including 37 landslide incidents, causing several injuries and one confirmed fatality – a child. Nearly 2,500 refugee families, some 11,000 people in all, are affected.
New Age correspondent in Cox’s Bazar reported that Rohingya youth Abdur Rahman, 22, died as a tree fell on him amid strong wind and heavy rainfall in Tajunir Maar Khola area of Ukhia near Balukhali camp.
Additional refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner in Cox’s Bazar Md Shamsudduza said that the deceased went to collect firewood in the morning.
He said that several thousand Rohingyas were affected by the rain that damaged about 4,000 shelters since June 9.
‘Many Rohingyas have been relocated to local schools, madrassahs and nearby shelters as their sheds collapsed during the incessant rain in the area,’ he said.
‘We are living in danger due to rain. We cannot go anywhere, daily chores like cooking is also affected,’ said Muhib Ullah of Kutupalang camp.
Cox’s Bazar Met Office recorded 410mm rainfall since Sunday, including 86mm in six hours till Tuesday noon.
Met Office in Dhaka said that cautionary signal 3 was in place at Cox’s Bazar and other maritime ports as monsoon was strong over North Bay and southern monsoon set on over Chittagong, Sylhet, Mymensingh and Dhaka division.
UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday said that first heavy rain of the year swept through Rohingya refugee settlements. This is an early test for refugees and humanitarian agencies working to support the Bangladesh government on the response efforts.
According to damage assessments, the rain damaged more than 1,000 shelters, 10 water points, 167 latrines, one health facility and one food distribution site. The rain also flooded the main road through the Kutupalong settlement, temporarily blocking vehicle access to parts of the site, he said.
He feared that the extreme weather would cause further damage, destruction and potential loss of life.
UNHCR estimated that up to 200,000 refugees could be at risk of landslides and floods and still needed to be moved to safer areas, he added.
International Organisation for Migration emergency coordinator in Cox’s Bazar Manuel Pereira said that the situation in the camps was deteriorating as the rain continued. ‘We are on high alert today for possible evacuations to higher ground as conditions may significantly worsen tomorrow,’ he said.
Aid agencies reported that over 21,500 people had been affected – a number expected to increase as the rain continued, IOM said in a statement.
About 7,00,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the UN denounced as ethnic cleansing since August 25, 2017.
The influx of over 11 lakh Myanmar refugees into Bangladesh since 1978 led to indiscriminate deforestation and hill cutting.
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