Through refugee eyes: Deadly floods in Bangladesh Rohingya camps
The Norwegian Refugee Council asked two Rohingya photographers to document the floods’ aftermath. This is what they saw.
“There is no dry land. It stopped raining for a while and the water started to go down. But it rained again and the water is rising. It is much worse than what you see.” [Zia for NRC]
It has not stopped raining for more than a week in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, home to more than 900,000 Rohingya living in the world’s largest refugee camp.
In three days last week, the region saw more rainfall than in the last 20 years. All that water came down the steep hills facing the densely populated camps, causing flash floods and life-threatening landslides.
The floods damaged temporary shelters made of bamboo and tarpaulin and killed at least six refugees, three of them children. They also displaced more than 20,000 Rohingya.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after Buddhist-majority Myanmar launched a military campaign against the mainly-Muslim minority, which the United Nations said was carried out with a “genocidal intent”.
As the floodwaters began to drown their camps, the Norwegian Refugee Council asked two Rohingya photographers, Yassin and Zia, to document its fallout. This is what they saw.
Rohingya wade through the water, carrying gas cylinders used for cooking. As the water started to rise, refugees scrambled to escape. [Yassin for NRC]
The floods have unduly affected women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. [Yassin for NRC]
After every disaster in the camps, including fire or landslides, the refugees are the first responders. [Yassin for NRC]
More 3,800 shelters have been partially or totally damaged in the floods. In line with government regulations, homes in Teknaf and Ukhiya were only built on a temporary basis, often resting on bare earth and constructed out of bamboo and tarpaulin. [Zia for NRC]
Children and adolescents, in particular, have been hard-hit. Nearly 450,000 Rohingya children live in the camps. They have no access to formal schools and little in way of support. [Yassin for NRC]
This year alone, the children have borne the trauma of multiple fires and the continuing fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Yassin for NRC]
As a result of the rains, at least 300 small and large-scale landslides have been recorded in Teknaf and Ukhiya camps. The landslides have affected shelters, injured refugees and blocked access to the camps, impeding aid response. [Yassin for NRC]
For now, the camps remain submerged and the Rohingya refugees have no safe place to call home. [Yassin for NRC]
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