Day after day of torrential rains, Rohingya refugee camps have been flooded in southern Bangladesh. This has caused destruction of homes and forced thousands to move into communal shelters or extended families.
The U.N. refugee agency reported that more than 30 cm (11.8 inches) of rainfall fell on Cox’s Bazar districts, which house more than 800,000. This is nearly half of the average July rainfall in one hour. More heavy downpours will be expected over the next few days, while the monsoon season will last for three months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the situation. The agency stated that there is a tight national lockdown currently in place to address the rising number of cases across the country.
Six people were reported to have died in the camps this week, five in a landslide due to the rains and one child who was swept away in floodwaters.
The U.N. High Commission for Refugees stated that more than 12,000 refugees were impacted by heavy rains and that an estimated 2,500 shelters had been damaged or destroyed. In a statement, the agency stated that more than 5,000 refugees were temporarily relocated to shelters and communal facilities for family members.
Hannah Macdonald, spokesperson for UNHCR, stated in an email that emergency response team were deployed to assist affected families.
Refugees claimed that they struggle to properly eat and drink.
Khatija Begum, a mother of five children, said, “Due to continuous rain for the past four days, today’s house is full water.” Begum stated that her children are unable to eat and she is afraid they will drown in their sleep.
According to the refugee agency, bad weather, landslides, and floods have added to the suffering and humanitarian needs for Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.
The camps are subject to cyclones, heavy monsoon rains and floods as well as other natural hazards. Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladeshi refugee camps after an insurgent attack.
This crackdown saw rapes, murders and torching of thousands upon thousands of homes. It was called ethnic cleansing by international rights groups and United Nations. The Rohingya, despite Bangladesh and Myanmar trying to arrange repatriations for them, are too afraid to go home.
According to the International Organization for Migration, Cox’s Bazar district is home to more than 1,000,000 Rohingya refugees. It is considered one of the most dangerous parts of Bangladesh.
It is a delta nation that is cross-seared by many rivers. The country receives heavy rainfall because of its monsoon climate, location on the Bay of Bengal and the possibility of tropical cyclones.