Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper
Conditions worsen in Rohingya camps as rain continues: IOM
Conditions in the Rohingya camps here are further deteriorating as torrential rains that began on Saturday continue to trigger landslides and flooding, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday.
Humanitarian agencies reported some 29 incidents in the camps on Monday, bringing the total number to 88 in just three days.
Aid agencies now report that over 21,500 people have been affected - a number expected to increase as the rains continue.
The incidents are being mapped and shared on an interagency communal incident overview platform.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is assessing the damage and responding to the situation, battling ongoing strong winds and rain.
"It's been pouring continuously since last night. The roads are becoming very muddy and inaccessible. We will only be able to assess the full damage when the rain stops," said Zanagir Alam, IOM site management engineer, on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday morning, IOM's shelter team has conducted joint damage verification in six camps and identified 99 damaged and 130 destroyed shelters.
Depending on weather conditions, IOM and partner agencies were scheduled to distribute emergency shelter to the affected families on Tuesday.
In total, aid agencies have reported over 2,350 shelters damaged or destroyed.
IOM's site management team is also working to repair infrastructure damaged by the storm.
This includes unblocking drainage culverts, positioning sandbags to stop further erosion, clearing landslides from access roads, digging temporary drainage channels to release rain water, and diverting traffic.
A total of 85 latrines have also been reported damaged by the storm over the past two days in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas where IOM coordinates water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) aid.
Most have been blocked by silt carried by the floods and IOM's site development team and WASH partner agencies are working to repair them.
In total, 189 latrines and 11 water points have been reported as damaged by the downpour.
"WASH agencies have the capacity to cope with the damage. But continuous rainfall and limited road access are affecting our response capacity," said Alessandro Petrone, IOM WASH programme manager.
"The situation in the camps is deteriorating as the rain continues. We are on high alert today for possible evacuations to higher ground as conditions may significantly worsen tomorrow," said Manuel Pereira, IOM's Emergency Coordinator in Cox's Bazar.
"Saving lives is our priority. We must make sure people are safe. Our other concern is funding. IOM and our partners urgently need financial support to meet the needs on the ground, and to maintain and expand key humanitarian services and operations during this critical time," he added.
There are close to one million Rohingya refugees currently living on the barren hills of Cox's Bazar. Without new funding, IOM's operations, which are currently only 22 percent funded, will run out of money by the end of this month, according to Pereira.