Heavy rains in southern Bangladesh this week have flooded and destroyed dwellings at camps hosting more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees.
“The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said more than 12,000 refugees were affected by the heavy rain and an estimated 2,500 shelters were damaged or destroyed,” The Associated Press reports. “More than 5,000 refugees have been temporarily relocated to other family members’ shelters or communal facilities.”
More than 30 centimetres of rain fell on camps in the Cox’s Bazaar district over 24 hours, the news agency states. More heavy rain is expected in the week ahead, despite the area receiving nearly half of its average monthly rainfall during that single day.
“The situation is further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement, noting that rising cases of the virus in Bangladesh have led to a strict national lockdown.
Five people died in a landslide caused by the rains, and one child died after being swept away. Houses have been filled with water, making daily activities such as eating, drinking, and sleeping difficult.
“The bad weather, landslides, and floods have further exacerbated the suffering and humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh,” AP writes, citing the UN.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to the camps since a harsh crackdown by Myanmar’s Buddhist-majority government began in 2017. The International Organization for Migration says more than a million Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazaar, which AP calls “one of the most disaster-prone parts of Bangladesh.”