The Plight of the Rohingya

Oxfam has emphasised the need for urgent action to assist refugees as monsoon rains strike Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.  As of 15 June the rains have caused 130 landslides, destroyed 3,300 houses and affected 28,000 refugees.  A survey carried out among the refugees found that more than half were entirely unready for the floods, landslides and disease outbreaks that accompany the monsoon weather.

Gabriela Luz-Meillet, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Programme Coordinator in Bangladesh, said: “Most of the refugees come from small villages where they know how to deal with extreme weather.  But now they are living in a huge tent city, disorientated and scared, and they are telling us that they lack the knowledge and resources to survive in this strange new environment.”

Oxfam is working with the Government of Bangladesh and the UN to relocate refugees to safer housing and make the remaining areas as safe as possible: “It is a race against time.”

The survey revealed that women are especially at risk.  59% did not know how to ensure the safety of their families during and after a disaster and only one third were aware of the location of the nearest refuge in the event of a cyclone warning.  Luz-Meillet confirmed that women are in “greater danger” – many are confined to their homes and do not know how to seek help or find shelter.

Hundreds of thousands of the Rohingya are living in makeshift houses on steep and sandy clay hillsides.  According to the UN, 200,000 are at risk from floods and landslides (and the risk is high for 24,000).  25,000 refugees have been moved to newly flattened areas that should be safer but those who remain in danger must know what to do in the event of an emergency.

The Rohingya need the information and resources necessary to survive the rainy season.  “Everyone working in the camps is doing their best but we need to make sure that this response meets both the needs of the Rohingya and international humanitarian standards,” said Luz-Meillet: “We cannot allow these people to endure another monsoon in these dangerous conditions in the camp.”

For more information read the news release issued by Oxfam.

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