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Conditions in Rohingya camps improved but emergency prevails: UN

Both financial, political commitments from int’l community sought

Published : Tuesday, 16 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 168

Cox's Bazar, July 15 (UNB) - Efforts throughout 2018 and early 2019 have dramatically improved conditions in the Rohingya camps and aid organisations are well-equipped to respond, said UN agencies on Monday.
However, the UN agencies said, this is still an emergency affecting vulnerable families living in a difficult, hazard-prone terrain that requires ongoing support from the international community and constant work by humanitarian actors.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) said they been working round the clock to repair damages, temporarily relocate affected Rohingyas, and activate disaster response plans following eight days of unrelenting rain and wind -- the most severe weather since the massive Rohingya influx in 2017.
They have dispatched staff, partners, and Rohingya volunteers to relocate vulnerable persons to safety, provide extra emergency food assistance and repair damaged buildings, roads and slope reinforcements.
Between 4 and 12 July, 709 mm of rain fell in parts of the Kutupalong Rohingya settlement, out of a July average of about 1040 mm for Cox's Bazar, said a joint media release.
A combination of landslides, floods and wind has damaged or destroyed hundreds of structures and temporarily displaced thousands of refugees.
About 5 percent of the nearly one million residents in Cox's Bazar were directly impacted.
Although small in percentage terms, its effect on already-vulnerable refugees has been significant, said the UN agencies.
Under the overall leadership of the government of Bangladesh, UN agencies and partners work year-round with Rohingyas to prepare for the monsoon and cyclone seasons.
This includes a large-scale programme to upgrade shelters and infrastructure, distribute and preposition emergency supplies, and train the community in reducing the risk of disaster.
The Rohingyas themselves are playing a central role in mitigating and responding to the effects of the monsoon through awareness raising, preemptive hazard identification, disaster risk reduction works in the camps and as first responders in Disaster Management Units and other community volunteer programmes.
"The current storm system appears to have weakened, but we're only halfway through the 2019 monsoon season, and the response to adverse weather conditions has already begun to exceed what was needed in 2018. With only one-third of funding requirements met for this year, the response to the Rohingya crisis requires substantially more commitment both financially and politically from the international community," said Manuel Marques Pereira, Deputy Head of Mission for Bangladesh.
"With the physical foundations for emergency response in place from 2018, our strategy rests on placing refugee communities at the centre of the response, rooted in trained refugee volunteers' own capacities, self-reliance, and ability to raise awareness and act as first responders," said Marin Din Kajdomcaj, UNHCR Head of Operations and Sub-Office in Cox's Bazar.
"Together with the Bangladesh government, sister UN agencies, and partners, the monsoon response to date has demonstrated that this community-centric approach, underpinned by critical infrastructure improvements and multi-functional Emergency Response Teams, is functioning rapidly and well to keep refugees healthy and safe."
"WFP has already provided significantly more rapid response food assistance due to the rains than we did for the entire month of July 2018, indicating the impact this monsoon has already had," added Richard Ragan, WFP Representative to Bangladesh.
Cox's Bazar lies in a coastal area especially prone to extreme weather events, including cyclones.    -UNB

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