One Killed, 2 Injured in Landslide at Rohingya Refugee Camp

By Muktadir Rashid   7 May 2018

DHAKA — A Rohingya girl was killed and two other children were injured Friday morning in a landslide at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya on the outskirts of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Mohibullha, a Rohingya community leader in the camp, said the three children had gone to collect firewood and were struck by the landslide when they stopped for a rest on the way back at the foot of a hill, according to the New Age, a Dhaka-based daily.

The 10-year-old girl reportedly died at the scene while the two others were rescued by locals and taken to an area hospital in critical condition.

Cox’s Bazar deputy police chief Afruzul Haque Tutul confirmed the death and injuries but did not elaborate.

It is the first known death caused by a landslide at the camps due to rain. Police say a person died a few weeks ago in a landslide caused by construction work.

UN Sends More Aid

At a press conference in Geneva on Friday, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic, said the agency was rushing additional aid to Bangladesh, where the first rains of the monsoon season have hit Cox’s Bazar.

Some 700,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar since fleeing Myanmar amid a military crackdown on their communities in northern Rakhine State triggered by militant attacks on security posts there in late August.

In a press release, the UN refugee agency said the first of three scheduled humanitarian airlifts carrying additional shelter materials arrived in Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The 1,400 tents are the first of 10,000 the agency plans to deliver by the end of May for 60,000 refugees living in areas most at risk of landslides and flooding.

Aid is also arriving by sea, including more tents, 170,000 tarpaulins and other essentials.

Humanitarian partners estimate that between 150,000 and 200,000 Rohingya refugees will be at risk this monsoon season and in urgent need of relocation.

“Of this number, 24,000 people are at critical risk due to the severe instability of the land on which their shelters have been constructed,” Mahecic said.

The Bangladesh government has recently allocated new land for the refugees. Work crews have already begun clearing the area and the UN refugee agency hopes to move some 5,000 people there by the end of the month.

“In the absence of more available and usable land, UNHCR has made temporary emergency relocation arrangements, which will be activated as needed” Mahecic said.

In addition to the 60,000 refugees to be housed in emergency shelters, the UN refugee agency said, another 35,000 can be hosted by other refugees living in safer areas and the same number can be moved to communal shelters in the camps. But the agency added that these were only short-term solutions to address imminent risks.

OIC Delegation Visits Camps

The Bangladeshi Daily Star reported that a delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also visited the Cox’s Bazar camps on Friday, ahead of a foreign ministers summit in Dhaka.

According to the report, OIC Assistant Secretary-General Hashmi Yousuf apologized that the organization had not responded to the refugee crisis sooner and said it would work with the international community to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar.

Friday’s visit to the camps was joined by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s special envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to the OIC, Masud Husain, and Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, among others.

A UN Security Council delegation visited the camps on April 28 during a four-day mission to Bangladesh and Myanmar and said the refugee crisis would remain one of the council’s top priorities.

However, a provisional program of the UN Security Council’s work for May tweeted by Poland on Tuesday makes no mention of the refugee crisis.