The Rohingya refugee camps run along the border of Bangladesh and Burma/Myanmar. There are approximately one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and many have been scrambling to prepare for the rainy season. The rains have come, and flooding has begun to devastate many of these communities — the majority of these refugees have only arrived less than eight months ago, and many only brought what they could carry on their backs. Some had to run with nothing. Life in the camps makes it difficult to find the most basic necessities, let alone being conducive to preparing for rainy season.
The U.N. has stated that “Monsoon season rains and floods threaten 200,000 Rohingya refugees.” They have reported that 9,000 have already been affected directly, and that thousands more are at risk. Some may miss the brunt of these storms if they’re lucky, but “more than 30,000 camp residents are still living in areas considered to be at high risk of deadly flooding and landslides.”
The refugee camps were built as a necessity for those fleeing from the violence within Burma. They were built quickly, and without the ability to properly design and monsoon-proof every standing structure. These people generally do not have the resources to build much beyond four walls and a roof, let alone something that can withstand the intensity of the rainy season. On top of all that, the ground there is prone to landslides under the rain, which can cause even further damage and loss of life.
The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Emergency Coordinator in the primary refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, said that, “You have close to one million people living on hilly, muddy terrain with no trees or shrubs left to hold the ground in place. People and their makeshift shelters are being washed away in the rains.”
The majority of the Rohingya have been on the run after violence erupted last year between the Burmese government and ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army), an armed Rohingya militant group. The Burmese military began targeting civilians as well as armed insurgents, garnering all sorts of international criticisms. Aid and news organizations on the ground, including both U.N. and private aid sources, have documented many instances of the Burmese military using rape as a weapon, killing swaths of children and infants (sometimes shooting, sometimes dashing against a tree, sometimes burning), and burning down homes, sometimes with families inside.
Now that the Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh, particularly in places like Cox’s Bazaar, they face a new threat and have little means to protect themselves.
The following video is from Partner’s Relief & Development. Learn more about them here.
Featured image: Frame taken from video by Partners Relief & Development.