Devastating floods and landslides hit Rohingya camps in Bangladesh
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Devastating floods and landslides hit Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

More than 21,000 Rohingya refugees have been affected by the flash floods and landslides.

Thousands of people have been made homeless by flooding after monsoon rains inundated refugee sites in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar.

We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of six Rohingya refugees and the many others who are now homeless once again. Over 300mm of rain fell in just 24 hours – nearly half the monthly rainfall average for July – and with the monsoon season stretching over three months, more rain is expected.

Since 25 August 2017, some 700,000 minority Muslim Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar, crossing the border into Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, joining hundreds of thousands of others already settled in overcrowded camps there.

Meher, 60, who lives with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar District, noticed water starting to come into their shelter after days of heavy monsoon rain.

Meher said that within a few hours water was up to their chests and all they could flee with was their stove, gas cylinder and a solar panel.

“I felt helpless, I didn’t understand where to go,” said Meher. “The water was rising so fast that we couldn’t go back. Most of our belongings were washed away.”

Meher who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar nearly four years ago said she has not seen flooding of this kind in the entire time she has lived there.

Now, she and her son’s family are staying in a learning centre a short distance up the hill from their waterlogged shelter, along with about 20 other families displaced by the flooding. While the residence is on a hill, the rain drips through the roof and the conditions are barely liveable.

Extension Devastating Floods And Landslides Hit Rohingya Camps In Bangladesh Meher
Meher, 60, and her son were forced to take refuge in a learning centre after their shelter was destroyed by flash floods caused by heavy monsoon rain. © UNHCR/Hannah Macdonald

“We’re not sure when the rain will stop and we’ll be able to go back to our homes.”

Extension Devastating Floods And Landslides Hit Rohingya Camps In Bangladesh Clean Up
Refugee volunteers are working day and night in heavy rain to rescue refugees stranded due to severe flooding in the camps. © BDRCS

“I haven’t seen such a flood before,” said Meher. “In Myanmar, I lived in a place where the land was even, and it didn’t flood in monsoon.”

Meher is worried about her shelter and what she will return to when the rain subsides.

“We’re not sure when the rain will stop and we’ll be able to go back to our homes.”

UNHCR-trained refugee volunteers and other partners are working in heavy rain, day and night to help families in urgent need. In some cases, this has meant rescuing the displaced from shelters destroyed by landslides. So far, more than 5,000 refugees have temporarily relocated to other family member’s shelters or communal facilities. 

The adverse weather, latest landslides and floods further exacerbate the suffering and massive humanitarian needs of refugees who have suffered for years from disease, heavy rains and fires.

In March, a massive fire in the Kutupalong Balukali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar killed at least 15 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

The impacts of the monsoon are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the entire country is under a lockdown in response to rising cases across the nation. The effects of these latest floods will only exacerbate critical needs and further strain already overstretched resources.

Our team is working alongside brave Rohingya volunteers to rescue survivors and meet urgent needs.

We need your help to save lives today.

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