Monsoon seasons threatens lives of tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees: UN

In this Sept. 15, 2017 file photo, Rohingya Muslims carry food items across from Bangladesh towards no man's land where they have set up a refugee camp, as smoke rise from fire across the border in Myanmar, in Tombru. Some 6,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled attacks in Myanmar last year live at the cloudiest edges of the border with Bangladesh, in a no man’s land that seems to be neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh. Many stay in these places because they are from nearby villages, and can see the wreckage of their former homes. But the Myanmar government insists no man’s land doesn’t exist, and the 6,000 refugees are living inside Myanmar. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin, File)

Vastavam web: The UN has said that lives of tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees hang in the balance as monsoon and cyclone seasons threaten their makeshift camps in Bangladesh.According to the UN estimates, nearly 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 25 last year when the army launched a military crackdown.

Myanmar does not recognise Rohingya as an ethnic group and insists that they are Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in the country.Without new funding, tens of thousands of people in the camps, fleeing violence triggered in Myanmar last August, will be at risk, the IOM said.”We cannot wait for funding to come in after the emergency is over and possibly preventable tragedies have occurred,” said John McCue, IOM’s Senior Operations Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.

“We need to be able to act now if lives are to be saved,” he said.Without aid, numerous refugees will have to remain in these hazardous locations and hundreds of thousands of others will also be at risk if roads become impassible, blocking access to aid supplies and medical services.”Tarp stocks are also rapidly running out and the IOM, which oversees shelter distribution, reports that by mid-May supplies will fall below critical levels,” McCue said.

He said that without more funding, neither new shelters nor replacements would be available to those who lost homes during storms.Only nine per cent of a USD 951 million joint agency response plan has been secured. Of that, USD 182 million allocated to provide Cox’s Bazar with assistance through December 2018 is facing a shortfall of almost USD 151 million.

Aid staff on the ground are working to improve shelters, secure key access roads and have emergency response services ready should the worst happens, “but the harsh truth is that we cannot keep doing that if we do not have the funds,” McCue said.The IOM, the World Food Programme and the UN refugee agency are working alongside the Bangladesh government and others to manage the scale of the response in Cox’s Bazar the world’s biggest refugee settlement.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the overall population of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is currently estimated to be over one million.

New refugees are still arriving, with some 8,000 new arrivals since January 2018, he said.The latest round of food distribution reached over 470,000 people and humanitarian partners on the ground also conduct protection monitoring missions to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, Dujarric said.It requests USD 951 million to help respond to the needs of some 1.3 million people, both Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community, until December 2018.The UN described the atrocities by the Myanmar military on Rohingya refugees as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing while the rights groups called it a genocide.