Bangladesh – March 26 2018

Coming monsoon rains pose threat to Rohingya refugees

SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh is supporting Rohingya children at refugee camps around Cox’s Bazar district with five child care spaces, where hundreds of children receive daily meals and have access to recreational activities and informal education.

But the National Director of SOS Children´s Villages Bangladesh warns that the approaching monsoon season presents a new challenge for refugees.
“There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya refugees living in the camps and more are about to come,” says Ghulam Ishaque, National Director of SOS Children´s Villages Bangladesh. “Some 500,000 of the refugee population are children and about 40,000 are registered as being unaccompanied. People live in fragile bamboo huts along the hills. Although many non-governmental organisations [NGOs] are present, the hygiene conditions are terrible. It’s a human disaster.”
Most of the Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox’s Bazar from neighbouring Myanmar since August 2017.

Bangladesh is prone to landslides and other disasters spawned by cyclones and monsoon rains, creating new challenges for the refugee children and their families.
“The area is quite hilly and people built their shacks on the steep hillsides,” Mr Ishaque says. “In order to get firewood, they cut the trees and even take out the roots. The ground is exposed to erosion. If the heavy rains of the monsoon soak the soil, I am afraid that landslides will become very likely.
“If that happens, these people will face their second disaster within a short time,” he says. “To prevent people from experiencing another traumatic event, and potentially the loss of family member, we must prepare and we need to do it now."
SOS Children’s Villages has made contingency plans in the event of a natural disaster near its child care spaces. “We will coordinate with other NGOs to set up evacuation plans, and we are already seeking locations in the host communities to set up child care spaces. We have informed the authorities about our plans to get approvals faster,” Mr Ishaque says. “We have taken precautions to prepare for the worst. But I really hope that this scenario never comes true.”
SOS Children's Villages Bangladesh is setting up five child care spaces [top] at refugee camps in the Cox's Bazar district. The centres provide recreational and education activities, as well as food, basic health care and trauma support. Ghulam Ishaque [above] is national director of SOS Children's Villages Bangladesh. Top photo courtesy of SOS Children's Villages Bangladesh; photo of Mr Ishaque by Katharina Ebel

Background on our emergency response in Bangladesh
In March 2018, SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh opened five child care spaces to help Rohingya children at one of several refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district.
The child care spaces serve as a hub for:
  • Providing for an estimated 300 children ages three to twelve every day. These facilities offer a safe place for children to play and have access to informal education.
  • Ensuring that the children are provided a balanced diet, nutritional screening and hygiene.
  • Offering support in trauma healing, primary health care, and referral services for specialised medical care.
  • Training caregivers in positive parenting.
Boys collect water at a Rohingya refugee camp in the Cox's Bazaar district. Photo by F. B. Manik Shah Mazumder
Read more about our global emergency response work.