Monsoon season rains and floods threaten 200,000 Rohingya refugees
Aid teams are in a “race against time” to help up to 200,000 Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh threatened by landslides and flooding caused by the first heavy rains of the year, the UN said on Tuesday.
The area at risk, Cox’s Bazar, is home to around 900,000 mainly Rohingya refugees who sought shelter there after fleeing violence that began in neighbouring Myanmar last August.
UN migration agency, IOM, said that its staff are on high alert.
Here’s spokesperson Leonard Doyle:
“It’s a race against time, it’s a race against the elements; and the place — as you’ve seen if you’ve been there, you’ve seen the photographs — is incredibly difficult, dangerous. You know, it was jungle, now it’s bare hills; the rain has great capacity just to wash everything away. So even in the best of times this is going to be a difficult operation.”
To date, the monsoon conditions — which agencies have been preparing for for weeks — have caused dozens of landslides and claimed the life of a child, according to UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which is helping to move families to safer areas.
It estimates that more than 40,000 people are “at high risk”, with up to 200,000 people under threat from landslides or floods.
Ukraine ‘largest displacement crisis in Europe’ since ‘90s: IOM
The Ukraine conflict has uprooted 1.5 million people from their homes and created the “largest displacement crisis in Europe” since the Balkan wars, a top UN migration official has announced.
Despite years of fighting between government forces and mostly pro-Russian separatists that has claimed thousands of lives, IOM Regional Director Argentina Szabados, said on Tuesday that the crisis still “remains largely forgotten”.
In recent weeks, the conflict has escalated in the east of the country along both sides of the 500-kilometre contact line, close to the border with Russia.
This is in spite of a ceasefire agreement agreed in February 2015.
Today, the conflict has caused “widespread destruction and casualties among civilians and military personnel”, according to IOM’s Szabados, who added that one third of the displaced are elderly who have “practically nothing”.
But she praised the resilience of victims of the violence who had started their lives “from scratch”, developing businesses or finding work, helped by IOM.
“It is of crucial importance to assist the most vulnerable among both displaced and local populations for successful conflict prevention and peacebuilding, as IOM does,” Szabados said.
Despite growing needs, the international response to the Ukraine crisis remains chronically underfunded.
To date, this year’s humanitarian appeal for the country has received only 17 per cent of the $38 million requested.
Guatemala volcano: UNHCR concern for 1.7 million people
Rescue efforts are continuing in Guatemala to help communities threatened by the deadly El Fuego volcano, which is still spewing lava, toxic gas, hot ash and rocks, UN aid workers have said.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says that 1.7 million people have been affected by the natural disaster to date, which has claimed the lives of 110 people and left 200 missing.
Spokesperson Francesca Fontanini said that colleagues are doing all that they can to access the worst-hit areas when conditions allow, although it remains “risky”:
“Every single day, basically, we try to go to the area and to visit the shelter and actually now we are compiling an assessment evaluation, we are compiling a list of priority needs for people of concern, including as well family reunification, not only for humanitarian assistance, but also protection and legal assistance.”
UNHCR is leading the UN’s protection efforts in the country and coordinating other UN agencies and partners.
Priorities include providing shelter for people with disabilities, supporting pregnant women and women with newborns, as well as creating safe spaces for children and women.