Christian Aid is working around the clock to help those who have fled Myanmar to the camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to prepare for the coming cyclone and monsoon season.
Flooding, landslides and cyclones are expected which will destroy many of the temporary shelters set up since the mass movement of people started when violence escalated in Myanmar last August. Since then, about 687,000 people have crossed the border into Bangladesh.
Together with its local partners, Christian Aid is training the communities in Jamtoli camp to upgrade the fragile tents they have been living in since arrival and has started to distribute 15,500 shelter and tool kits. This is in addition to the emergency shelter kits given to 10,000 families after the emergency broke out. People are learning how to lay strong foundations, tie down roofs, raise plinths and create barriers with sandbags.
Christian Aid has identified which areas are likely to be affected by flooding and landslides so they can relocate people to safer ground. 319 plots are being prepared at the western boundary of the camp for families to move to, with provisions made for new toilet and washing facilities. It is also strengthening communal shelters, such as schools, women and child friendly spaces, and mosques. An overhaul of existing latrines and water points is underway to help prevent a major outbreak of waterborne diseases which can be caused by contaminated sources of water.
Ram Kishan, Christian Aid’s Regional Emergency Manager South Asia, said: “People have lived through hell to get to the safety of the camps in Cox’s Bazar. Several have been left traumatised by what they have witnessed and by the treacherous journey they have had to make. Conditions are cramped and life is already very difficult. Now they are going to be hit with further heartache unless we can help them in time.
“We are relocating as many people out of the danger zones as we can and teaching people how to strengthen the shelters against the heavy rains and the cyclones that will no doubt come.
“As site management agency, we co-ordinate the 36 humanitarian organisations working in Jamtoli camp which has a population of roughly 51,000. We estimate that 5,000 people could be severely affected. We must act fast.”
Christian Aid has been helping all communities displaced by the fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and displaced Rohingya Muslims and Hindus who have crossed the country’s border into Bangladesh. Its Rohingya Crisis Appeal was launched in September and has helped fund the response so far.
To donate to the Rohingya Crisis Appeal, visit www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies