DHAKA/KUTUPALONG REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh – Heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding in southeastern Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing five children and forcing a thousand people to relocate, including in the Rohingya refugee camps.
The children were killed in landslides near Cox’s Bazar and Ramu, said Kazi Abdur Rahman, a senior Bangladesh government official in the area. Three more people were injured and taken to hospital and a thousand were evacuated.
It was not immediately clear how many Rohingya refugees were relocated. Aid agencies have warned that the monsoon, which typically peaks in July, could threaten many thousands of people.
Abdul Hakim (L), a Rohingya refugee man looks on as his shelter gets flooded after heavy rain in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clare Baldwin
“A number of families were moved due to flooding and minor landslides,” said Abul Kalam, the Bangladesh government official in charge of the refugees. “The rain shows no sign of stopping but there has been no major catastrophe inside the camps,” he said.
The UNHCR and IOM were also unable to immediately provide figures.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border from Myanmar since Aug. 2017 when the Myanmar military launched a violent crackdown in Northern Rakhine State. The Rohingya say thousands were killed or raped and their homes were burned down. Myanmar denies this and says its security forces were conducting legitimate counter-insurgency operations.
In the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, the market near the Modhuchara bamboo bridge began flooding in the early hours of the morning, said a refugee who lives there.
Rohingya refugees walks along the refugee camp during rain in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clare Baldwin
“We were awake when the flooding started,” said Abul Hakim. “We could not sleep well because of the fear of flooding.”
“I want to move from here. There is a high risk of flooding and drowning and a high risk of landslides,” he said as his one-and-a-half year-old grandson played in the water.
He said there were about 15 Rohingya families living in the area near the market, and it was the second time it had flooded. Floodwaters near Hakim’s bamboo and plastic shelter were shin-deep.
At least three refugees have been killed in the monsoon since early May.
As of July 18, about 21,000 refugees had been relocated because their shelters were threatened by landslides, the UNHCR said.