• Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:56 pm

Cyclone Fani: UN moves to protect vulnerable Rohingyas in Bangladesh

  • Published at 12:26 pm May 4th, 2019
File photo of Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox's Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Fani would move north-northeast towards Bangladesh causing potential coastal flooding

The United Nations (UN) refugee agency, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have taken measures to ensure the protection of Rohingya families in Cox's Bazar district during the expected heavy rains and strong winds caused cyclone Fani.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the forecast on Friday was that cyclone Fani "would move north-northeast towards Bangladesh where there were concerns about the effects of potential coastal flooding," reports UNB.

World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson Clare Nullis said: "The impact is expected to be less severe in areas such as, for example, Cox's Bazar, which is home to the world's largest refugee camp, populated mainly by Rohingya people who fled northern Myanmar.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas, most of whom fled Myanmar in 2017.

In an interview with UN News, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh, Manuel Pereira, said "tie-down kits" were being distributed to secure houses and shelters for the past two weeks, and underlined that they were working to "avoid any loss of lives".

The WFP said in a statement that its staff had been completing engineering and disaster risk reduction work around Cox's Bazar, to make the camps safer and more accessible, during monsoon and cyclone seasons.

Extra stocks of food and prepositioned supplies were in place, in case of any impact and teams were monitoring the potential impact on the refugee camps, said the UN News.

The chances of major disasters because of severe cyclone Fani has lessened, as it continues to move further inland, Director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, Shamsuddin Ahmed, has said.

"There are no more fears of a major disaster," he said at a press conference held in the media centre of the Met office around 10am on Saturday. "All the people from the coastal regions have been taken to cyclone shelters, following Met office forecast. We have brought damages at a tolerant level."

He further said: "The wind speed is now normal. If the wind speed had been higher, then we would have feared major disasters."

Cyclone Fani, first hit India when it made landfall near the northeastern coastal city of Puri Friday morning.

The cyclone lashed the coast with the maximum wind speed of up to 175km/h, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding, with 28 million people living along the route of the massive storm.

Highlighting the zero-casualty cyclone preparedness policy of the Indian government, a spokesperson for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Denis McClean, said: "The almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters."

"Schools were shut, airports closed, and transport suspended, and although the damage to infrastructure was expected to be severe, there were no reports of any deaths," McClean added.

Local authorities are accommodating evacuees in over 4,000 shelters, including 880 specially designed to withstand cyclones.