Helping Rohingya refugees survive monsoon season

Anwara and her baby Ajida

Like any mother, all Anwara wants is for her family to be safe.

Anwara is one of many mothers living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, having fled over the border from Myanmar to escape the violence that erupted two years ago.

Today, over 900,000 refugees, roughly the population of Birmingham, have made the small tourist area of Cox’s Bazar their home in what is now the world’s biggest refugee camp.

Anwara and her family have been living in CARE-run Camp 16 for over a year and Anwara recently gave birth to baby Ajida. They have been receiving assistance from CARE including nutritional support and a safe delivery kit. Compared to life in Myanmar, they are happy with the support they have received as well as the relief of being able to live in peace. Anwara’s husband Elias said:

We couldn’t move freely, we had difficulty even going to the market for basic supplies. Life is not easy here, but at least we have peace here.

Anwara and her children in the refugee camp in Bangladesh
Anwara with her son and baby Ajida, who was born in CARE-run Camp 16

But life here is precarious and nothing can be taken for granted. Anwara and her family currently live in a small makeshift shelter made of bamboo and tarpaulin – and like so many of the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, their home is at risk from the heavy rains and strong winds of the monsoon season.

A view of Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
The refugee camps are situated on hilly and unstable terrain

In this fragile terrain, devastating floods and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rains can wash shelters away or leave people marooned in their homes. Already more than 270,000 people have been affected and 14 people have lost their lives – and that number is expected to rise.

Woman being rescued from mudslide in refugee camp in Bangladesh
A woman being rescued after being trapped by a landslide during last year’s rains (June 2018)

CARE has been helping refugees at Cox’s Bazar since the first refugees started to cross the border in August 2017. At the beginning, we worked to ensure that people had enough food and water each day. We’re currently providing health, nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene), protection and gender-based violence support and services, as well as managing two camps, Camp 13 and Camp 16.

And right now, we are working to help people make their shelters safe during the monsoon season.

Landslide on an access road in Camp 13, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Landslide caused by heavy rains on an access road in Camp 13

To prepare for monsoon season, we’ve been identifying the areas and shelters at highest risk and tackling those first. We’re strengthening shelters and relocating people to safer areas of the camp. We’re providing additional tarpaulins and ropes to tie down roofs and improving foundations to make the shelters more durable to monsoon rain and winds.

We are running regular safe shelter workshops so that we can train refugees on the safest methods of constructing their homes, along with distributing flyers with instructions on how to make their homes safe.

We’re also conducting rescue operations for victims affected by the heavy rains and landslides.

But the need remains huge.

CARE Bangladesh currently estimates that 4,000 households (approximately 20,000 people) will be seriously affected by the monsoon winds and rain in CARE’s two camps alone.

Monsoon season has arrived late this year and is expected to continue throughout August. With cyclone season due to start right after the monsoon season, it’s a dangerous time for people living in the camps.

Please donate now so that families like Anwara’s can remain safe and dry during the monsoon season and beyond.

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Anwara and her family in refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Anwara, Elias and their two children have benefited from CARE’s support in Camp 16 in Cox’s Bazar

With your help, we’ll be able to provide more shelter items to families like Anwara’s, and train them so they are able to build stronger and more durable homes. Thank you.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.