The Bangladesh government should relocate Rohingyas living in a severely overcrowded mega camp to safer ground in Cox’s Bazar, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued on Monday.
The Rohingyas, who fled Myanmar military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing that began in August 2017, should not have to face flooding and landslides, and should have sturdier shelters and adequate education for their extended stay, it said.
The 68-page report, Bangladesh Is Not My Country: The Plight of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar, is based on a May 2018 visit to Cox’s Bazar.
Human Rights Watch found that the mega camp is severely overcrowded. The average usable space is 10.7 square
meters per person, compared with the recommended international standard of 45 square meters per person.
Densely packed refugees are at heightened risk of communicable diseases, fires, community tensions, and domestic and sexual violence.
Bangladeshi authorities should relocate Rohingya refugees to smaller, less densely packed camps on flatter, accessible, nearby land within the same Ukhiya subdistrict where the mega camp is located, Human Rights Watch said.
‘Bangladesh has rightfully garnered international praise for receiving 700,000 Rohingya refugees, though they still face difficult conditions,’ said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.
‘Bangladesh should register fleeing Rohingya as refugees, ensure adequate health care and education, and let them pursue livelihoods outside the camp.’
Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh are at imminent risk of landslides.
Bangladesh authorities, with the assistance of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, should urgently relocate refugees to safer ground.
Many of the new Rohingya arrivals, plus another 200,000 who had fled previous waves of persecution in Myanmar, are living in what has become the world’s largest refugee camp, Kutupalong-Balukhali Expansion Camp.
Despite efforts by the refugees and aid agencies to strengthen huts, build safer infrastructure, and develop safety plans, the camps and their residents have remained highly vulnerable to catastrophic weather conditions, it said.
On July 25, five children were killed in flooding and landslides.
Bill Frelick, director of the refugee rights program at Human Rights Watch, spent 10 days in May at the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
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