CARE Warns Hundreds of Thousands of Myanmar Refugees are at Risk of Landslides and Flooding from Monsoon

CARE Warns Hundreds of Thousands of Myanmar Refugees are at Risk of Landslides and Flooding from Monsoon

Publication info

Posted
4/30/18

The humanitarian organization is working with refugees to mitigate risks and save lives

DHAKA, Bangladesh (April 26, 2018) —  Heavy rains in Bangladesh threaten the lives of thousands of Myanmar refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee settlement, leaving them vulnerable to landslides and flooding. Global humanitarian organization CARE is on the ground, mitigating the risk with shelter, infrastructure, sanitation and health services.

“With the monsoon here, the situation for every single person living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar will change for the worse,” says Zia Choudhury, CARE’s country director in Bangladesh. “There still is so much to do in very little time. We are working effectively to help the communities prepare for the coming rains and storms, while supervising mitigation measures to prevent these people from becoming homeless again.”

The first downpour has already foreshadowed a major disaster. Field reports show that brief, heavy rains last week have already created accessibility problems in the muddy hills, turning small puddles into large pools.

“We are very worried and try to stay on the top of the hill,” says Monara, a refugee in Cox’s Bazar’s Potibonia camp. “We get scared when the rain comes, for ourselves and our children.”

The situation may worsen as the rains intensify. Slippery roads and puddles will be the least of the problems for refugees living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR anticipates massive landslide causalities of as many as 23,000 people and asserts that another 85,000 people are at risk of becoming homeless. Other threats include outbreaks of water-borne diseases due to flooding and limited access to health services. The government of Bangladesh, together with humanitarian aid agencies like CARE, has prioritized precautionary measures, working on relocating 100,000 refugees to safer ground.

“It is a race against time, and refugees are bracing themselves for what is to come,” says Choudhury. “They need our support. The government, UN agencies, humanitarian organizations and civil society must work together in this crisis to save and protect every life possible.”

CARE is collaborating with the government to address the situation, managing Potibonia camp (also called camp 16) with a population of 22,000 people. To reduce the risks of rain and flooding, with funding from the International Organization of Migration (IOM), CARE has begun distributing materials to upgrade shelters, including bamboo, tarps and rope. Of the 438 households at severe risk, 330 have already been relocated, and another 372 houses under moderate risk have been upgraded. To ensure ease of movement on hazardous terrain, CARE has built staircases with railings, concrete footpaths and fencing. CARE also has installed drains throughout the camp to mitigate flooding, and deep tube wells to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases.

CARE is constructing new bathrooms, renovating the four health centers it operates, and is in the process of providing mobile health and nutrition services. CARE has also installed solar street lamps in camps 14, 15 and 16 to promote protection and security.

“Those of us who live on the [edge of the] mountains are very scared of being affected by storms,” says Md. Alom, a refugee living in Potibonia camp. “Our names have been listed. They want to relocate us.”

Last year, rain triggered landslides in Bangladesh’s southeastern region, killing at least 170 people. Cyclones, which form in the Bay of Bengal and reach speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, often hit this area. Last year, a cyclone destroyed approximately 25,000 houses in the region.

 

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 93 countries and reached 63 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.

Media Contacts

Mahmoud Shabeeb, mshabeeb@care.org, +962-79-146-39-03, Skype: Mahmoud.shabeeb_1 (based in Amman, Jordan)

Nicole Harris, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871   

 

Heavy rains in Bangladesh threaten the lives of thousands of Myanmar refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee settlement, leaving them vulnerable to landslides and flooding. CARE is helping mitigate the risk with shelter, infrastructure, sanitation and health services. (Photo: Josh Estey/CARE).

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