As landslide, flooding and related incidents triggered by monsoon rains hit Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Unicef has called for further support for thousands of vulnerable Rohingya children.
The UN organisation said the torrential rain and strong winds are also threatening the health and safety of children in the camps, particularly water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.
In a statement yesterday, Unicef said the heavy rain brought flooding and landslides -- with reports of one child killed in a landslide -- whilst strong winds damaged or destroyed hundreds of shelters, leaving families defenseless.
“Thousands of children and their families are living in shelters on hilly areas with no trees, rocks or shrubs to hold sandy ground -- much of which has now turned into mud -- as the rains continue and the water table rises rapidly,” said Edouard Beigbeder, Unicef representative in Bangladesh.
Unicef and partners estimate that 200,000 Rohingya refugees (over 50 percent children) are currently threatened by the dual-dangers of flooding and landslides, with 25,000 at highest risk.
A rapid assessment following the latest rains found that of the almost 10,000 refugees directly affected, over 65 percent were affected by wind, more than one-in-four (27 percent) by landslides, and 4 percent suffered from severe waterlogging or flooding.
In addition, it is estimated almost 900 shelters, 15 water points, over 200 latrines, two Unicef-supported health facilities and two food distribution sites have been damaged or destroyed in the camps. Rehabilitation efforts are underway, said the press release.
Most roads leading to the camps have been flooded, while the main road that bisects the biggest settlement has been shut to all except medical vehicles. Several learning centres and Child and Women Friendly Spaces run by Unicef and its partners have been temporarily closed.
“As the monsoon rains intensify, so do the dangers that children face -- not only injury, separation or even death, but also disease, and a lack of access to vital services including health and education,” added Beigbeder. “Urgent support is needed to avert further catastrophe.”
More than two and a half metres of rain are expected to fall in Cox's Bazar throughout June, July and August during peak monsoon season, with more rains forecast to fall later this week.
Over the past few months, Unicef and partners have been working to mitigate the risk of the monsoon rains, including pre-positioning humanitarian supplies -- including tarpaulins and corrugated iron panelling -- to be mobilised as required.