5 June 2020

Monsoons could cause 'enormous deaths' among

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A group of international advisers has warned that the coming monsoon season could result in “enormous deaths” among persecuted Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in overcrowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. reports citing AFP.

Kobsak Chutikul, from the advisory group, said at a press conference in Singapore on Tuesday the camps were not built to withstand the storms.

"We are at this time in a race against time. For us, the monsoons are coming. The camps of almost one million people are not built to withstand monsoon," Chutikul said, adding, "There will be enormous deaths if all parties do not move to some understanding on repatriation, on aid."

The multinational advisory board for the committee for implementation of the recommendations on Rakhine state was formed last year to advise Myanmar on implementing the recommendations a previous commission, headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The remarks come as Bangladesh is racing to prepare new homes on a nearby island, called Bhasan Char, before the monsoons that could arrive later this month.

Mohammad Abul Kalam, Bangladesh's refugee commissioner, said on Sunday that 100,000 refugees living in "priority" areas most at risk from floods and landslides would be relocated before June.

The Rohingya camps are clustered in a part of the country that records the highest rainfall. Most now live in flimsy, bamboo-and-plastic structures perched on what were once forested hills.
The UN says about 150,000 refugees in Bangladesh's southeast are extremely vulnerable to disease and disaster this rainy season. Nearly one million Rohingya in total live in shanties on hillsides.

Monsoon rains wreak havoc every year in Cox's Bazar and the adjacent Chittagong Hill Tracts, a tropical forest zone home to wild elephants. Last season heavy rain triggered landslides in the tract region, killing 170 people.

Humanitarian groups have been racing to reinforce the basic shelters erected hastily by the Rohingya as they fled across the border after a fierce army crackdown on the community in western Myanmar.

Nearly 700,000 refugees have crossed the border since August into Cox's Bazar, clearing trees and packing whole hillsides with unstable shanties.
The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations but are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.

The UN has stopped short of officially designating the purge of Muslims from Myanmar as genocide, but it has reiterated that the crackdown, which has seen many people killed, lots of homes and villages torched and women raped by the military and Buddhist mobs, is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

2018.04.03 / 21:45
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