200,000 camp residents categorized as vulnerable
The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas living in the settlement camps in Cox’s Bazar continues due to non-stop rainfall for more than two weeks, posing challenges for the administration to deal with the situation.
Concerned government officials in Cox’s Bazar also told Dhaka Tribune that the government was responding to the situation in accordance with the needs, and that there were contingency plans in place if the situation worsens.
The district administration has categorized 200,000 of about a million residents of the settlements as vulnerable to landslides, they said.
However, they added that, there were no landslides as yet.
Some Rohingyas in two camps told this correspondent that situation was really bad as they were facing heavy downpour for more than the last two weeks.
Many of their living places with weak structure have gotten even weaker making those literally unlivable due to continuous rain, they said, adding that despite very bad condition they are living there due to lack of other choices.
As their living places are on the slopes of hills, they fear landslides, said the residents.
Two-three days back, two Rohingya children were washed away by the rain water, and died, they said.
'Situation serious but still under control'
The Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (RRRC) based in Cox’s Bazar has described the situation as serious, but said it was still under control.
“It has been raining heavily for more than a few weeks. After two weeks, today (Sunday), we got some sunshine. But, it started raining again after 12 noon,” RRRC Abul Kalam, the top government official dealing with the Rohingya crisis at ground level, told Dhaka Tribune, yesterday over telephone.
“The situation is serious but it is still under our control,'' he said.
“My office, the district administration, and the international organizations are trying our best to mitigate the suffering of the residents of the camps. And, if the situation gets worse, we are also ready to deal with it,” said Kalam, also an Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management.
“Yes, the situation is bad. But, we are so far responding to it effectively,” Cox's Bazar's acting Deputy Commissioner Ashraful Afsar said.
“We are vigilant, and coordinating with the international organisations in dealing with the situation,” he said.
To a question, the acting deputy commissioner admitted the death of two Rohingya children, and the categorisation of 200,000 people as vulnerable to landslides.
He also said that the government did have contingency plans if the situation worsens in the coming days.
When asked to elaborate, Afsar said that people living in weak-structured abodes could be transferred to strong-structured ones, and the residents could also be shifted to cyclones shelters, and educational institutions.
“We will take measures as per the need,” he said.
When asked if the cyclone shelters, and the educational institutions had enough capacity to accommodate the Rohingyas, the acting district administration head, said: “I cannot say it now. Let’s see how things develop. We will do everything in our ability to protect every Rohingya.”