Pre-monsoon rains already affecting refugee children in Bangladesh: UNICEF
Although monsoon season in Bangladesh does not officially begin for another month, rain and intense winds are already affecting the lives of young refugees there, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The children are among nearly 700,000 members of the mainly Muslim Rohingya community who fled violence in Myanmar and have settled in the Cox’s Bazar region, located on the south-east coast of Bangladesh.
UNICEF says it is one of the most flood-prone areas in the country.
For weeks now, UN agencies have been sounding the alarm over the impending monsoon season and its effects on the refugees, who are living in camps and makeshift settlements.
However, pre-monsoon conditions are already taking their toll, as UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday:
“Yesterday during intense winds before the rains and during the storm, many children were seen sitting on top of their families’ shelters in an attempt to keep the plastic roof tops from blowing away. We estimate that more than 100,000 people, including approximately 55,000 children, are at risk due to floods and landslides. It’s possible that this figure could go up to 200,000 people, depending on the intensity of rains.”
Monsoon season runs from June to September, and UNICEF is bracing for the impact by pre-positioning emergency water, sanitation and nutrition supplies, among other measures.
Hostilities in Myanmar’s Kachin State ‘wholly unacceptable’: UN rights expert
A UN human rights expert has expressed grave concern over mounting hostilities in Myanmar’s Kachin State which has killed at least 10 people, left several others wounded and forced thousands to flee their homes.
Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said she has received reports that the military had carried out several aerial bombings and had also used heavy weapons and artillery fire against civilian areas.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, she described the situation as “wholly unacceptable” and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
She said “civilians must never be subjected to violence during the course of conflict,” adding that “all parties must take all necessary measures to ensure their safety and security.”
UN reports indicate that in the last three weeks, more than 5,000 people in the northern state have been displaced from villages near the border with China.
Ms Lee said she had received reports about a food convoy which was prevented from entering a village where more than 100 people have been trapped with little or no access to food, medicine and other necessary items.
She called on all parties to the conflict to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“Any wilful impediment of relief supplies may amount to war crimes under international law,” she said.
Mediterranean migrant arrivals less than half of 2017 numbers: IOM
Nearly 22,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea so far this year, the UN migration agency, IOM, has reported.
The 21,981 Mediterranean arrivals amount to less than half the number recorded during the same period in 2017.
In 2016, the figure was around 200,000.
The majority of the refugees and migrants, or 43 per cent, arrived to Italy, with the remainder divided between Greece and Spain.
IOM also reported that an estimated 606 people have died in the Mediterranean this year alone.
The agency expressed alarm over the increase in drownings on the route to Spain, with 217 losing their lives through the period ending 29 April.
This number is nearly the total recorded for all of last year, which was 224.
Dianne Penn, UN News.