Cyclone Mora: Urgent shelter needs in Bangladesh, Myanmar

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Bangladesh. Rohingya refugees affected by Cyclone Mora

Refugees in Kutupalong camp rebuild their homes after Cyclone Mora tore through the area on 30 May 2017.  © UNHCR/Shinji Kubo

Cyclone Mora swept across the Bay of Bengal earlier this week, damaging thousands of homes in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Shelter is urgently needed for those affected. Many refugees and internally displaced people are among the local victims.

Some injuries were reported among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area and displaced people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. An 11-year-old refugee died on Wednesday when he was hit by a falling tree branch in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. In Myanmar in central Rakhine state, a displaced boy aged 10 was reported missing after he was swept away by rising waters. 

UNHCR assessments in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong and Nayapara camps found that most of the refugees’ homes – which are built with mud, bamboo, corrugated iron and plastic sheets – suffered some damage. Some 20 percent are completely destroyed. Communal structures such as schools, community centres and the offices of government and NGOs are also damaged. Our partners are assessing the situation in makeshift sites and local villages hosting refugees.

In Myanmar, the government is conducting assessments with the contribution of UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies. Hundreds of shelters in the camps housing internally displaced people in central Rakhine state have suffered damage in the strong winds. This includes 186 shelters that collapsed while 339 are severely damaged.

In both countries, UNHCR and our partners are supporting government-led relief efforts to assist refugees, displaced people and their host communities who were affected by this natural disaster.

The working environment remains challenging amid persistent rains. Parts of central Rakhine are fraught with risks of landslides and collapsing river banks. In northern Rakhine state, relief work is hampered by flooding in parts of Maungdaw town as well as downed power and telecommunications lines. The electricity mini-grid in Bangladesh’s refugee camps is also broken, heightening security concerns after dark.

There is an urgent need for shelter materials. While some refugees in Bangladesh are already repairing their homes, others face nights in the open unless alternative accommodation can be found. UNHCR is prioritizing the repair of communal structures like schools to provide temporary shelter. Our staff are also distributing plastic sheets to those who need it the most.

UNHCR is seeking funds from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help those affected by the cyclone in the two Bangladesh camps where we are authorised to work.

In Rakhine state in light of the urgent needs, we have provided plastic sheets to several healthcare facilities and are distributing further to people who need a roof over their heads. We are also working with UNICEF to support repairs to schools to minimize disruption of the school year that started yesterday (Thursday). UNHCR will provide further humanitarian aid in close liaison with the authorities.

Food rations, drinking water and latrines are some of the other needs identified so far in the cyclone-affected areas. More needs are likely to be identified as further assessments are completed in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

In Bangladesh, there are more than 33,000 Rohingya refugees registered in the official camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara. Outside the camps, more than 200,000 undocumented Rohingya are living in makeshift sites and local villages in south-eastern Bangladesh, including an estimated 74,000 who arrived after fleeing the violence in northern Rakhine state in October 2016.

In Myanmar, there are some 120,500 internally displaced people who have been living in bamboo longhouses in IDP camps in central Rakhine since they lost their homes in the 2012 inter-communal violence.

 

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