The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Friday that it is expanding preparations and empowering Rohingya refugees who are at risk ahead of monsoon rains in Bangladesh.
Emergency preparations and training of Rohingya refugees as first responders in Cox’s Bazar are being ramped up as the first monsoon rains of 2019 are expected in weeks.
UNHCR spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic, said that last year's monsoon season was a "major test" for humanitarian agencies and the Bangladesh government. Refugee lives in the hilly settlements of Cox’s Bazar area remain at risk from potential landslides, flash floods, and the unpredictability of impending cyclones and monsoon rains.
"Many families had built shelters wherever they could find space, often on steep slopes or areas prone to flash floods from heavy rains, and their immediate safety was at risk," he explained.
"The situation requires a robust humanitarian response, centred on the needs of both refugee and Bangladeshi communities," Mahecic affirmed.
The spokesperson said that this year, work is ongoing to further fortify essential infrastructure and strategically pre-position relief items in the refugee settlements. "Emergency stocks to deal with pre- and post-disaster situations, equipment, and other essentials are being placed throughout the camps."
"UNHCR’s efforts are also focused on training and building the lasting capacity of refugee communities who will be at the centre of any response, including their ability to prepare and respond to natural disasters alongside UNHCR field teams and other humanitarian partners," he continued.
To date, there are over 850,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, with the concentration of refugees in Cox’s Bazar now amongst the densest in the world.