Heavy rains worsening Rohingya sufferings
Executive Director of United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Natalia Kanem has said the heavy rainfall in the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar and its impact are already compounding the sufferings of the Rohingyas, even as they try to rebuild their lives.
Shelters that are little more than huts made of bamboo sticks, plastic sheeting for walls, and tarpaulins overhead, are serving a very important purpose for refugee women and girls forced to flee their homes to the vast refugee camps, according to UN News Centre.
They are offering persecuted Rohingyas who fled the brutal violence in Myanmar a safe haven where they can find sanctuary, support, and care of UN workers and partner agencies.
Natalia Kanem visited Cox's Bazar, as part of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' delegation.
Many of the women and girls in need of most care are survivors of brutal sexual violence, carried out allegedly by Myanmar government forces, who began torching Rohingya villages in the Rakhine state last August, forcing them to flee across the border.
UNFPA said they have already stepped up efforts and is working with partners, including the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and other agencies - together with refugees themselves and host communities - to repair and reinforce these spaces as well and the health centres operated by the agency.
It is also identifying at-risk groups so that they can be transferred to safety, forming community watch groups from among women, whether refugee or from the host community, to locate those who are pregnant - often as a result of rape.
Vulnerable women and girls are taken to more secure settlements or places with facilities designed to help them cope with trauma and loss, according to UN News Centre.
However, it is feared that the full brunt of the monsoon season would discourage women from seeking vital maternal health care and other services.
During the recent heavy rainfall, UNFPA health facilities and women-friendly spaces saw their use decline by around 60 percent.
UN Secretary-General Guterres, who visited the refugee settlement and the UNFPA facilities on Monday, reiterated the need to protect those in most need.
"The safety of the Rohingya refugees during this monsoon season is first priority," he said, standing amid a monsoon downpour.
Some 19 Women-Friendly Spaces (WFS), also known as women's centres or women's safe spaces, set up by the UNPFA, cater to thousands of women and girls, providing healthcare and counselling, as well as professional case management for survivors of violence.
However, with the start of the monsoon season, torrential rainfall and risk of flash floods and landslides are jeopardising this vital element of humanitarian response and protection.
In June, some 10 such spaces were damaged by rains and landslides.