Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 29, 2021 — Over the last 24 hours heavy monsoon rains have caused intense flooding and deadly mudslides in Cox’s Bazar, tragically claiming the lives of at least six Rohingya refugees, including an 8-year-old boy, as well as at least five children from the host community. Urgent emergency funding is required to deliver life saving activities to those who have been affected.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is expanding its emergency response in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to ensure that vulnerable people - including pregnant women, girls, older people and people with a disability - are provided with the support they need, and that protection services including child protection and measures to prevent and address Gender-Based Violence are in place. Already, one IRC mobile medical team has been deployed to provide medical support to those who need it most.
Nilema Jahan, IRC Bangladesh Deputy Director, said,
“The suffering of Rohingya refugees and the host community has been immeasurably intensified by heavy rains, which have already caused devastating landslides and flooded several major access ways within the camps. We know that in crises like this when shelters are destroyed and families displaced, women and girls are at increased risk of gender based violence and harassment. We also know there are increased risks of water-borne diseases due to contaminated water supplies.
“In the wake of the destruction and amid ongoing rain, IRC teams have been working around the clock to assess the extent of the damage and offer support to people who have lost their homes or are at risk of having their shelters washed away. Our own health facilities have been impacted by severe flooding, but we have already deployed a mobile medical team to provide urgent assistance to those in remote areas who may not be able to reach services.
“But we cannot do this alone. In the flood-prone coastal region of Cox’s Bazar, emergencies like this are happening all too frequently and their likelihood will increase as climate change becomes a growing concern across South Asia. The international community cannot look away.
“Major gaps are already apparent in the funding of this year’s response with key sectors including shelter, water and sanitation, and health just 10 per cent, 4 percent and 9 percent funded respectively. The whole response is under one third funded. Donors must commit to reversing the trend of declining funding for the Rohingya response that we have seen this year, and instead provide rapid emergency funding as well as multi-year support that will enable humanitarian actors to work with Rohingya refugees and host communities to protect them from future disasters.
Donors such as the U.K. that reduced their funding to the response, and cautioned that more money was unlikely to be made available this year, were warned of the risk of events like this. Already due to the UK aid cuts over 100,000 people have lost access to water and sanitation services. It is vital that they now contribute to alleviating the suffering of those who have been impacted.”
The IRC has been working to support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh since 2017, providing healthcare and support to women and girls. Since the start of this year’s monsoons, the IRC has deployed a mobile medical team to remote areas of Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and provide case management services to survivors of Gender-Based Violence.