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Living on sandcastles: Monsoon rains hit fragile Rohingya refugee camps
At 2.30am this morning a mud wall in a shelter in the Kutupalong camp of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh collapsed killing a young boy and injuring his mother. The landslide was triggered by the start of the heavy rain typical in this region at this time of year. Early reports indicate that around 300 shelters in the camp were damaged over the weekend.
“Rains came down in sheets all last night,” said UNHCR’s Caroline Gluck, going on to add that “the land has been stripped of all vegetation, to make way for the building of makeshift homes. People are practically living on sandcastles.”
The region is prone to heavy downpours, cyclones and landslides during the rainy season, which arrives in June and typically lasts four months.
The district where refugees perch on steep hillsides in bamboo and tarpaulin tents was pounded by 138 millimetres of rain between Saturday night and midday Sunday, Bangladesh’s meteorological office said.
Laura Cook, All We Can’s Communications Manager, visited the region in February and said of today’s news, “The next four months pose an enormous risk to refugees living in the camps of Cox’s Bazar. The temporary and semi-permanent shelters the Rohingya have created on the sandy hills in the region are ill-equipped to deal with the weather. We are looking at the potential of a catastrophe within a catastrophe.” Reflecting on her time with Rohingya refugees Laura went on to say, “The Rohingya people have already survived so much trauma. It is vital we continue to do all we can for these vulnerable families.”
An eight-year-old girl was killed on Friday when a chunk of earth fell on her as she walked to collect firewood in one of camps. These two tragic deaths could sadly be the first of many.
All We Can is working in Cox’s Bazar to help refugees secure their homes. A gift of just £88 could provide the materials needed to secure the home of a vulnerable family against the destructive monsoon rains.
Laura works for All We Can as the Communications Manager. She is also an internationally acclaimed photographer with a passion for women's rights. She is studying MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies in her spare time and lives with her husband Stephen in Essex.