Rohingya refugee Khatemunnesa and her children live in a shack made from bamboo and plastic sheeting. Her husband was killed when a mob set fire to their village in Myanmar last year. She and her children fled to the safety of a refugee camp in Bangladesh, but now Khatemunnesa worries about monsoon season and how her fragile home will withstand the torrential rains and gale-force winds.

“Strengthening the shelter is something that my husband would have taken care of before, and now, with the monsoon coming, I have to do it myself,” she says.

When families are forced to flee their home, providing them with shelter is the first step towards recovery and a core part of UNHCR's mission.

Even a simple emergency shelter provides protection from the elements, privacy and a space for families to maintain their dignity and daily rituals in the midst of chaos.

Without her husband to help strengthen her family’s shelter in Bangladesh, Khatemunnesa fears for her children’s safety during the monsoon season. ©UNHCR/R. Arnold

The makeshift shelters of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya families will not withstand the torrential rains and intense winds of the monsoon season. UNHCR is racing to provide emergency shelter kits to refugees before the worst of the weather hits. ©UNHCR/A. McConnell

The support of Australian donors helps UNHCR meet the shelter needs of people forced from home. Thanks to you, families receive emergency tents and tarpaulins, building kits to strengthen their homes and winter-proof makeshift shelters, and rental assistance for those living in urban settings.

Shelter needs are critical right now in Bangladesh, where families are preparing for the deadly monsoon season.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since last August. Settling on the hillsides of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, most families live in flimsy bamboo shacks.

Heavy rains over the next few months could trigger devastating landslides and flooding. A cyclone could hit at any time.

It is estimated that the lives of up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees are at risk. Their shelters are perched on steep, muddy hillsides prone to landslides. Around 24,000 people are at critical risk due to the severe instability of the land on which their shelters have been built.

UNHCR is racing to provide refugees like Khatemunnesa with emergency shelter kits to strengthen their makeshift homes against the monsoon weather. These kits contain bamboo poles, ropes, tarpaulins, sandbags and tools.

“We have a huge amount of work to do,” says Richard Evans, UNHCR’s senior shelter specialist in Cox’s Bazar. “We need to move as many people as possible to higher ground, and keep providing shelter materials.”

On a patch of dirt in Kutupalong refugee settelement, Hafsa, 55, and her husband Mohammed, 60, are making improvements to their family’s shelter using materials provided by UNHCR.

“We now have what we need to build and, God willing, the shelter will remain solid while we stay here,” says Hafsa.

You can provide shelter for vulnerable Rohingya families during the monsoon.
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Rohingya refugees prepare for the monsoon by building new reinforced shelters with materials supplied by UNHCR. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

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