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Monsoon threatens the Rohingya with more death, destruction and disease

20 March 2018

The International Development Committee publishes an emergency report to urge the UK Government to energise other donor nations and international agencies to work with the Bangladesh government to prevent this new crisis. 

Extreme conditions and Cox's Bazar

The looming onset of predictable severe weather conditions and heavy rainfall could result in the deaths of thousands of Rohingya temporarily housed in the precarious terrain and environment of Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district.

MPs from the Committee have just returned from a visit to Bangladesh where they saw for themselves how extremely vulnerable the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar are to the coming monsoon season.

Heavy rains are expected to start within days. Extreme conditions are forecast for June, July and August, with two and a half metres of rainfall predicted in those three months alone (well over double the UK's total annual figure). Tropical storms and cyclones also present a severe threat.

The location and condition of temporary accommodation, the potential for landslides, especially following hillside deforestation, the lack of vaccinations and the inevitable flooding of sanitation arrangements, all combine to create grave risks of death, disease and destruction for an already embattled population of refugees.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“During our discussions in the camps in Coz's Bazar, it became clear to us that substantial numbers of refugees are about to face another crisis. With the weather about to turn, the fragile safety and sanctuary that the Rohingya have found in temporary camps provided by Bangladesh, is in jeopardy. 

The UK Government and the international community must work with the Bangladesh government. The window of opportunity to achieve any kind of help is already closing.

The Rohingya have already escaped one man-made disaster at the hands of the Burmese regime. We cannot allow them to face a predictable, natural disaster, on their own.”

The International Committee travelled to Bangladesh in March 2018 as part of its inquiry into DFID's work in Bangladesh and Burma.

Further information

 Image: Tommy Trenchard Caritas CAFOD September 2017 Rohingya crisis