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Dhaka Tribune

Rohingyas brace for Cyclone Remal amid landslide, flood fears

  • Special attention is being given to pregnant women and children
  • Volunteers, APBn ready in camps to respond to disaster
Update : 26 May 2024, 05:46 PM

Rohingya refugees residing in the landslide-prone areas of Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar are living in fear as Cyclone Remal approaches the Bangladesh coast.

Since Sunday morning, strong winds have been blowing in some areas of Teknaf and Ukhiya, with residents in the camps located in hilly and forested areas expressing fear due to the risk of landslides that could be triggered by heavy rainfall.

More than 1.1 million Rohingyas from Rakhine State fled to Bangladesh after being forcibly displaced from Myanmar and are living in refugee camps after the brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military in 2017. 

 

The shelters in the camps are made from tarpaulin and bamboo frames, which makes them very susceptible to damage.

Volunteers and members of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) are ready in the camps to respond to any possible disaster. Announcements are being made in each section of the camps to minimize the impact of storm.

Md Nasir, a local Rohingya leader, said: “Those who have built homes on steep hill slopes are afraid of landslides with the arrival of the cyclone, while those in low-lying areas fear flooding. Additionally, from May to September, there is a risk of floods and landslides in the area.”

Mohammed Hossain, a resident of Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukhiya, said his house below the hills had previously been damaged by rain. 

Md Arefin Jewel, a superintendent of police with the APBn captain assigned to the Ukhiya camp, said announcements are being made block by block within the Rohingya camps to advise people to stay safe and alert. Additionally, shelters have been prepared at donor agency centres in the camps.

“Most Rohingya people live in hilly areas, making them vulnerable to landslides during heavy rains. Thus, preparations have been made with the fire service and other agencies, and people living in risky areas will be relocated based on the situation.”

The Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) office has reported that schools, mosques, and madrasas within the camps have been prepared as shelters. The APBn, Red Crescent Society, Red Cross, law enforcement and fire service personnel, along with Rohingya volunteers, are ready to manage the disaster. Announcements are being made to ensure everyone remains vigilant, and over 3,000 volunteers are prepared.

Cox's Bazar Additional RRRC Shamsuddoza Nayan told the media that extensive preparations have been made through the combined efforts of the camp administration and partner agencies.

Undated image shows Rohingya refugees walking at a camp in Cox`s Bazar. Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Md Rafiq from the Kutupalong Rohingya camp said that the camp is broadcasting warnings about potential natural disasters, creating fear among those living in shanties on hills. If they do not take shelter in safe places, there is a risk of casualties in the Rohingya camp if the cyclone strikes.

Teknaf Assistant Commissioner (Land) Syed Safkat Ali said locals and Rohingya refugees are advised to stay alert. “Mosques and learning centres inside the camps are prepared, and various efforts, including announcements, are ongoing to ensure that the Rohingya take necessary precautions and stay in safe places during the disaster.”

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department has asked Mongla and Payra ports asked to hoist great danger signal No 10 as cyclonic storm Remal now lies over northwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas. 

The coastal districts of Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Barguna, Bhola and Patuakhali will be under great danger signal No 10.

The met office published the forecast on its website on Sunday morning.

Cyclone Remal has now intensified into a severe cyclonic storm.

Meanwhile, the Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar ports have been asked to hoist great danger signal No 9. 

The cyclone is predicted to make landfall on Sunday, affecting the coasts of Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal.

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