Dhaka, Tue, Feb 2019


Early rains put Rohingyas at risk; trigger funding concerns

22 April 2018,Sunday, 20:27

The arrival of pre-monsoon rains in Bangladesh has revealed an alarming level of risks for Rohingyas, United Nations humanitarian agencies said.

Issuing a warning, they said they do not have the funds needed to protect hundreds of thousands of desperate people once the rainy season begins in earnest.

“The arrival of the rains marks the start of what is going to be an incredibly challenging period for the refugees and those working to support them,” said John McCue, an official at the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), in Cox’s Bazar, where more than 700,000 refugees are living in overcrowded camps.

“The worst is yet to come when cyclone and monsoon seasons hit in the coming weeks.”

UN agencies and their partners have some heavy machinery and road clearing equipment, with more are expected to arrive.

But humanitarian workers are facing severe shortage when it comes to other vital resources, according to UN news.

To date, just seven percent of the UN migration agency’s $182 million appeal for 2018 has been secured.

“The grim reality is that most [refugees] are living under tarpaulins on highly unstable ground and are going to have to survive months of rain, floods, landslides and possible cyclones. They are in desperate need of support and protection and we simply do not have the funding we need to deliver a fraction of what is required,” said McCue.

Furthermore, the sheer scale of the crisis and the short period of time in which it unfolded has had a major impact on the topography of the area.

Trees and vegetation had to be cleared to set up shelters and as a result, it is now impossible to predict where the most severe weather-related damage will occur, officials say.

Conservative estimates suggest 120,000 people will be at grave risk from flooding and landslides when monsoon proper hits.

In spite of the severe funding shortage, IOM and partners on the ground, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are working flat out to prepare.

UN agencies are also supporting the relocation of thousands of families from areas deemed most at risk and helping communities strengthen their resilience.

Humanitarian agencies welcomed the arrival of vital road clearing equipment as early rains struck Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps causing flooding and highlighting the severe challenges ahead when the monsoon proper arrives, says the IOM.

The initiative involving IOM, WFP and UNHCR, will allow rapid clearing of key access roads and waterways during the serious flooding and landslides expected to occur during heavy rain.

The machinery will be prepositioned in ten key forward operating bases along key access roads in the mega camp and southern parts of Cox’s Bazar, which will act at hubs to ensure the flow of aid can continue as much as possible even when ground conditions are at their worst.

The arrival of around 700,000 refugees in just a few months had a major impact on the topography of the area.

But IOM studies show that when the monsoon proper hits, an estimated 120,000 people will be at grave risk from flooding and landslides.

As the agency responsible for the Balukhali extension area of the mega camp, which has been recognized as one of the most at risk areas of all because of the topography, IOM faces particular acute challenges.

Keeping access open will be crucial and IOM and its partners have responded by working with the Bangladesh authorities over the past months to create roads, pathways, bridges and drains, and to stabilize land, said the UN migration agency.


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