Deadly Floods Leave Thousands of Rohingya Refugees Homeless Again
Heavy monsoon rains washed away the sprawling Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, turning settlements into fast-flowing rivers overnight. At least 11 people have died, officials said, and thousands are homeless again.
Mamunur Rashid, a local official in Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have lived for years after fleeing neighboring Myanmar, said at least six people died in Balukhali and Palong Khali camps on Tuesday, including a child. Five other people died in a camp in Teknaf on Wednesday morning, he said.
According to the Inter Sector Coordination Group, an international humanitarian organization that oversees the camps, as many as 13,000 people have been affected by severe flooding and landslides, which have claimed dozens of lives in India in recent days. Residents said dozens of people were missing.
Since 2017, more than 730,000 ethnic Rohingya have entered Bangladesh, fleeing a vicious military campaign of murder, rape and arson in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, where the government does not consider them legitimate citizens. . The United Nations has called Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, “a classic example of ethnic cleansing.”
Refugees in camps in Bangladesh continued to suffer from disease, heavy rains and fires, including one in March that killed at least 15 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
Witnesses said many refugees affected by recent floods and landslides were still living in squalid conditions after losing their homes in the blaze.
“We lead a nightmarish life,” even after we fled to Bangladesh, said Mohammad Jubair, a Rohingya volunteer who said he saw a landslide destroy an entire hill of shelters in Balukhali refugee camp on Tuesday. At least three people, including a mother and her two children, were killed, he said.
Mr Jubair, 22, added that a friend was also injured by a tin foil that cut his leg as he tried to flee the landslide.
The rains have been raining since last week, rescue workers said. Things quickly got worse on Tuesday as floodwaters washed away most of the barracks.
Extreme weather conditions
One of them belonged to Hadir Hussain and six members of his family in Kutupalong refugee camp. Their hut, made of bamboo sticks and plastic sheeting, was completely destroyed by the flooding, he said.
Mr Hussain, 18, said he was unsure if it would ever be fixed.
“It’s a devastating situation here,” he said.
Many people affected by the floods are in urgent need of food as they are unable to cook, said Hasina Akhter, regional director of Cox’s Bazar for BRAC, a Bangladesh-based humanitarian agency. “Women and children are suffering a lot,” she said. “They also need medical support because they may already have a cold or fever.”
Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency said on twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths of the refugees, which he said had been caused by “severe weather events”.
“The persistent rain and strong winds continue,” he said. “Our emergency response teams are in the camps, working in coordination” with the government and humanitarian organizations.
Bangladesh, a low-lying nation of around 165 million people where monsoon rains arrive with fury every year, is particularly vulnerable to climate change, scientists say. Torrential rains submerged at least a quarter of the country last year, leaving millions of people with nothing. In the past, rising sea levels combined with powerful cyclones have engulfed entire villages.
Flooding has also hit the country as it battles one of its worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Department of Health on Tuesday reported nearly 15,000 new infections and a record 258 deaths.
Bangladeshi authorities said vaccinations would begin soon for Rohingya refugees aged 55 and over.
Karan Deep Singh reported in New Delhi and Saif Hasnat in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hannah Beech contributed reports.
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