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IOM, UNHCR, WFP launch disaster risk reduction activities in Cox’s Bazar

  • Published at 10:01 pm October 1st, 2019
Rohingya camp
File photo of a Rohingya Camp Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Cox's Bazar is one of the most disaster-prone districts of Bangladesh

UN agencies have launched the second phase of their Disaster Risk Reduction activities in the host community of Cox’s Bazar, alongside partners and local authorities. 

Cox's Bazar is one of the most disaster-prone districts of Bangladesh. UN agencies – International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme (WFP) – have been working with the government to further develop local capacity to respond to recurring disasters.

The second phase, which was launched on Tuesday, will further reinforce and rehabilitate cyclone shelters, strengthen local capacity, preparedness, and resilience, and strengthen social cohesion, the agencies said in a joint statement. 

File photo of Rohingya women and children in a camp in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/ Dhaka Tribune

UN agencies said they are working closely with the government as well as the Cox’s Bazar district Disaster Management Committee to strengthen the local community’s resilience and capacity to face recurrent disasters.

“IOM is very pleased with yet another partnering initiative with the Government of Bangladesh, our sister UN agencies and other partners, this time to contribute to tackling Disaster Risk Reduction in the host communities,” Manuel Pereira, IOM deputy chief of Mission in Bangladesh, said. 

He said infrastructure improvements and capacity strengthening of communities to take the lead in disaster preparedness and lifesaving response is a priority for IOM. “Our commitment to Bangladesh capacity to mitigate and, when needed, self-response to disasters is unequivocal,” he said.

Distressed rohngya women and children at a camp in Cox Bazar Dhaka Tribune/Mahmud Hossain Opu

Peter Guest, emergency coordinator for WFP in Cox’s Bazar, said rehabilitating the cyclone shelters is just part of their disaster risk reduction activities in the coastal district.

“Mitigating the impact of disasters and ensuring vital access points remain open is critical to maintaining food security in the region,” he said.

Guest noted that Bangladesh is facing an increasing number of weather-related disasters as the effects of climate change worsen “which makes it even more important to ensure that local communities are empowered and resilient when facing disasters.”

The launch was followed by a two-day Disaster Risk Reduction workshop that sought to create linkages between local, national, and international disaster reduction actors.

Head of Operations for UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar Marin Din Kajdomcaj said UNHCR and partners continue to improve their preparedness capacity for extreme weather events.

File photo of Rohingya people Migrating to different camps in Cox Bazaar Dhaka Tribune/MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

“UNHCR has put refugees at the centre of the response through skill trainings and the provision of basic tools [and the] results are already showing,” he said.

“While joint projects underway have massively reduced the risk of floods, landslides and the loss of life, much more remains to be achieved, through the exchange of knowledge and best practices, improvement of coordination and simulation exercises,” Kajdomcaj said.