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Mobilise international help for Rohingyas in grave danger

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04th-Feb-2018       
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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on Friday warned that more than one million Rohingya refugees now living in Cox's Bazar's makeshift camps would be in grave danger because of potentially adverse weather conditions during the upcoming monsoon season in Bangladesh. Irregular and extreme weather conditions in the country became evident last year. The refugees also had to endure rains and winter, and understandably, with the onset of the monsoon the situation is likely to get worse. However, two very pertinent questions in this regard are - is the government appropriately equipping itself to tackle the potential environmental setbacks? And how it will protect the refugees if an environmental disaster strikes?
In fact, not by the UNHCR, we expected the forecasting to have been realised by the government and accordingly convey the potential environmental threats to the international community and the UN. On one hand Myanmar is intentionally delaying with the correct form of repatriation process while on the other - the international community have not been able to exert much effective diplomatic pressure and sanctions on Myanmar. On top of it, given 2018 being the election year, the crisis will take a new turn. We fear the country will have to bear an added pressure to cope with a series of crisis, and undoubtedly it doesn't have a coping strategy in this connection.
Apart from political, economic and health factors seasonal adverse climatic conditions, including cyclones, landslides and floods, might dangerously envelope tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staying at the highly congested settlements in Cox's Bazar district into serious risk. Moreover, given last year's unanticipated eruption of flash-floods in the south of the country, large parts of Cox's Bazar and Teknaf may go under flood water. As a result, more than 85,000 refugees could lose their shelters. Another 23,000 refugees living on steep slopes within the site could be at risk of landslides. Additionally, key services in the settlement, installed by humanitarian agencies, working with the Government of Bangladesh, are also at risk of being washed away. The installations include latrines, washrooms, tube wells, and health centres. That's not all; access to roads into the settlements could be blocked making it hard to provide emergency aid. There is also a high risk for public health situation, especially of outbreak of communicable diseases.
So our appeal to the international community is to hasten help to save the Rohingya refugees because it is beyond our capacity to cope with the crisis no matter how much we try.

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