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POST TIME: 10 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Rohingya crisis
Govt, NGOs work together to build mid-term shelters
SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS, back from Cox’s Bazar

Govt, NGOs work 
together to build 
mid-term shelters

As repatriation of the Rohingya refugees is being delayed, the government, aided by some NGOs, is building mid-term cyclone shelters in Cox's Bazar. These shelters, mostly made of tarpaulins, bamboo and RCC pillers, would last for at least six to 12 months. Over 1.1 million people have fled from Maynmar's Rakhine state and taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar following a crackdown by the Myanmarese authorities. The Rohingyas have been living in dilapidated and tottering tents that are vulnerable to cyclone.

The mid-term shelters will be built in such a way that even if a strong wind blows away their roofs and fences, the main structure made of RCC pillars would remain unaffected. The government has already approved the design made by an NGO, Caritas, at the Kutupalong Rohingya Refugee Camp-4.

Poritosh Chakrabarty, regional coordinator of Caritas, told The Independent: “The size of a shelter will be 16 by 12 feet. As per international standards, 3.5 sq metre would be required for each house that can accommodate a family of five.”

“Every shelter will have three windows and a partition in the middle of the home. The distance between two shelters will be six to 10 feet, while the height of each of them will be is 6.5 feet,” he said.

On a visit Camp-4, this correspondent found many replicas of these shelters. Some are concrete and others are made of corrugated iron sheets and wood.  The government, however, has approved the type of shelter whose fence is made of bamboo, roof is made of tarpaulins and bamboo, and the main structure is made of about six RCC pillars.

“In the beginning, the shelter we built for the Rohingyas was made of bamboos and tarpaulins. These were very fragile and unsteady. One year has passed and their repatriation is yet to start. We can’t tell you the specific date when the repatriation will begin. Cox’s Bazar is a cyclone-prone area. Every year the area is struck by cyclones, floods and landslides. A strong structure is needed to protect these refugees from such natural calamities,” said Mohammad Abul Kalam, commissioner of the Rohingya, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC).   “A ‘strong structure’ doesn’t mean a concrete structure, but it will protect them from strong winds or cyclones. These will last at least one year,” he also said.

“Bringing the entire camp under mid-term shelters isn’t possible overnight due to funds crunch. We will build these shelters step by step. The new shelters that are being built in the camps follow the structure of the mid-term shelter. If we reconstruct any home, it will also follow the same structure,” he added.

Njuma Khatun, a refugee staying in Camp-3, said: “I face serious problems when it rains as water seeps through my tent roof. I’ve heard about such shelters. I hope my suffering will come to an end during the rainy season. But I’d like to return to Rakhine state as early as possible.”