Rohingya refugees just over the Myanmar/Burma border are preparing for the oncoming monsoon season, which generally hits in the summer and can last into the fall. The rains that precede the monsoons have already been hitting the refugee camps, which house just under 700,000 people.
According to The International Rescue Committee, the population of the Rohingya has tripled since the beginnings of the rains last year. Approximately 100,000 to 150,000 Rohingya are at severe risk.
Like many of the people who dwell in the jungles of Burma, they have grown adaptable to the harsh environment. Places that have rainy seasons and are prone to flooding are the same places you tend to see stilted homes or other forms of flood protection. That generally works for those who have lived in the jungle for their entire lives.
However, since many of the Rohingya have been forced from their homes by the Burmese military, they now must live in close proximity and in incredibly poor conditions in the border towns. Contrary to what some might think, the Rohingya Muslims are not the first that the Burmese military has forced out toward the border this way — they have done the same to the Karen, for example, forcing them into refugee camps in Thailand.
Still, even places like Mae Sot, Thailand, have had more time to prepare for this year’s incoming rainy season. Many Rohingya civilians have died just getting to the refugee camps — be it at the hands of the Burmese Army or the elements during the journey — and it is likely that more will perish as the weather begins to change.
Imagine torrential downpours hitting these slopes, taking dirt and debris with it:
Several times in the past, the Bangladeshi government has proposed sending a large chunk of the Rohingya (an estimated 100,000) to Bhashan Char, an island in the bay that is constantly flooding — especially in monsoon season. Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, has described this island as entirely “uninhabitable.”
SOFREP has spoken to many aid workers on the ground, particularly those in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Many fear that as the public interest wanes, it will allow the Bangladesh government to approach the refugee situation with less care, sending them to places like Bhashan Char that will likely result in the deaths of many refugees.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.