Rohingya families reinforce shelters ahead of monsoon


PV Desk : Over 40,000 Rohingya families in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps have now been trained on shelter upgrading techniques ahead of the fast approaching monsoon and cyclone season, says the UN migration agency on Tuesday.

Women are playing a key role as part of a major project being rolled out by IOM, the UN migration agency.

With the first rains already affecting the camps, IOM now has completed its shelter upgrading trainings, but will continue to support workshops run by partner agencies.

These show refugees how to best secure their shelters ahead of the strong winds and heavy rains expected in May.

A total of 100,000 families will be reached through the trainings, while IOM is overseeing the roll-out of a similar number of upgrade kits containing ropes, bamboo, tarpaulin and tools.

At least 120,000 people are expected to be at grave risk of landslides and floods when the monsoon hits the steep sandy slopes of the Cox’s Bazar settlements, where almost a million Rohingya refugees are now living after fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

Dabal Rokaha, an IOM programme officer overseeing the trainings, said the workshops has proved to be hugely popular with the refugee community, with the number of women taking part steadily increasing.

“Often their husbands are busy taking part in cash-for-work programmes [to improve ground conditions in the camps.] When we started the trainings there might be 20 men and 5 women, but now we often see 70 percent female participation. The women are getting more confident. They’ll take the ownership of what they learn and when they go back to their shelters, their husbands will listen to them and take their advice,” she said.

With monsoon and cyclone season just weeks away, urgent action is underway by IOM and partner agencies, along with the government of Bangladesh, to improve conditions in the camps and help the refugees to build resilience against the dangers to come, said the IOM.

In addition to shelter upgrades, thousands of families at risk are also being relocated to safer ground.

IOM is working with WFP and UNHCR in the race to prepare more land for people to set up their shelters in safer locations less prone to flooding and landslides.

“But despite the efforts underway, the topography of the camps and the expected weather conditions ahead means that mitigating against all disaster is near impossible,” said the IOM.

IOM and its partners have been working with the Bangladesh authorities over the past months to create roads, pathways, bridges and drains, and to stabilise land, which will help keep vital access ways open during the rains.

Portering teams have also been created to bring in supplies on foot, if necessary.