Rohingya refugees in midst of an ‘acute crisis’ as Cyclone Mora devastates parts of Bangladesh
Members of the stateless Muslim minority say they had no warning and were unable to salvage stockpiles of food for the breaking of the Ramadan fast
Aid workers have warned of an “acute crisis” in the coastal area of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh after a cyclone devastated homes and camps housing Rohingya refugees, leaving many without food or shelter.
Cyclone Mora battered the area on Tuesday with winds of up to 135 km/h and waves rising to 1.3 metres. Six people have been confirmed dead, while at least 17,000 homes have been damaging or destroying and 600,000 residents evacuated.
About 300,000 Rohingya now live in overcrowded camps on the southeast coast after fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar. Some of the worst damage was at the camps, where numbers grew last year following a military crackdown on the stateless Muslim minority in the neighbouring nation.
“There is an acute crisis of food, shelter, health services, water and sanitation facilities in the makeshift settlements following the storm,” said Sanjukta Sahany, local head of the International Organisation for Migration, which coordinates relief in some of the camps.
“The drainage and toilet system have been fully broken.”
Suhany said at least 16,010 homes in the camps were destroyed or damaged and most had their plastic and straw roofs fully blown away.
“But already the sun has appeared and they have started repair work,” she said.
Sahany said the storm had also seriously damaged clinics run by aid agencies.
Largely Muslim, many Rohingya were observing the Ramadan fast when the cyclone struck. The refugees said they were not given any official warning of the storm and were unable to salvage stockpiles of food for the breaking of the fast.s
“No charities came to offer food. Some people shared a small piece of bread between a group of four,” community leader Mohammad Rafique Habib said.
“Pregnant women, children and the elderly are suffering most.”
Abdul Matin, who lives in a camp for unregistered Rohingya refugees, told of how many had crowded into schools and mosques for the night.
“But there wasn’t space for everyone. Some people had to sleep under the open sky in their broken huts,” he said.
Bangladesh said it was sending ships to assist the tens of thousands of people affected by the storm.
Cyclone Mora comes after heavy rains lashed Sri Lanka, causing the worst flooding seen on the island in more than a decade and killing more than 200 people.