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19 February, 2019 12:39:53 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 February, 2019 12:00:24 PM
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Rohingyas face cyclone threat

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka
Rohingyas face cyclone threat

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps close to Cox’s Bazar are vulnerable to the coming cyclone season with only rotting bamboos and shredded plastic to protect them, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said yesterday. A survey by Red Cross Red Crescent found that 82 per cent of the 700,000 refugees urgently needed sturdier shelters to protect them from extreme temperatures, monsoon and two cyclone seasons a year.

It has been almost exactly 18 months since August 25, 2017, when violence erupted in Rakhine state in Myanmar, forcing people to flee, IFRC said on its website. Azmat Ulla, head of the IFRC country office in Bangladesh, said: “Housing conditions in these camps are basic. After 18 months, they have dramatically deteriorated, leaving people worryingly exposed. The aid community in Cox’s Bazar needs to prioritize repairing and replacing these battered shelters so that people have some protection against inclement weather and are provided with at least some basic comfort and dignity.”

In recent weeks, Red Crescent staff and volunteers have distributed tarpaulins, ropes and tools to 49,000 families (benefiting 200,000 people). The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, supported by IFRC and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, has so far trained 8,400 people to make their shelters safer, and more people will be trained accordingly.

Feroz Salah Uddin, secretary general of Bangladesh Red Crescent, said: “In the coming months, people need sturdier structures that can resist cyclones and other forms of disasters. Our trained technicians are helping camp residents

improve their own shelters. This is especially important for people with disabilities, the elderly as well as female-headed households and children.”

Ahead of the cyclone season in April and May, the Bangladesh Red Crescent and government agencies are also training thousands of volunteers from the Rakhine community in cyclone preparedness.

However, Azmat Ulla said: “All the cyclone preparedness training, well-rehearsed emergency drills and necessary equipment in the world will not protect these people if a deadly tropical cyclone barrels up the Bay of Bengal, as it had happened in the past. The fact remains that these people have nowhere to escape.”

“The pitiful state of people’s shelters illustrates how utterly unsustainable and unsafe this life is. We continue to call for an urgent political solution to this crisis. But in the meantime, more is needed to at least provide people with basic comfort and dignity,” he added.

In the past 18 months, the Bangladesh Red Crescent, supported by IFRC and Red Cross and Red Crescent partners from around the world, has reached over 250,000 people with emergency help including food, water and shelter equipment. More than 160,000 have received medical care.

Meanwhile, when IFRC is expressing concerns over the protection of the lives of Rohingyas during monsoon, the Bangladeshi government has arranged for the relocation of over one lakh Rohingyas out of more than a million refugees in Bhashan Char. But the Rohingyas and international community appears to be unconvinced about the safety of these people. However, the government is hopeful that the relocation plan would help in managing the situation somewhat.


MK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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