UNHCR expanding arrangements and empowering Rohingya refugees for monsoons

The monsoon rains fall between April and September each year. The role played by Anwar, and other refugee volunteers during the last year’s rains was crucial in helping to keep the community safe.

The monsoon reaches a peak in July and August in southeast Bangladesh, frequently dumping huge amounts of water in heavy cloudbursts. In just one 24-hour period last year, more than 40 centimetres of rain fell.

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More than 740,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh since 2017 are sheltered in Cox’s Bazar district, joining more than 168,000 who fled earlier cycles of violence.For the refugees, experiencing their first wet season in flimsy bamboo shelters, and for the humanitarian agencies, working in support of the Government of Bangladesh, the last wet season proved a big test. The speed of the refugee influx meant that families had built shelters wherever they could find available space, often on steep slopes or floodplains.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, working in close cooperation with its partners and the refugee community, focused on improving the fragile and densely crowded refugee settlements, building kilometre after kilometre of roads, as well as steps and bridges.

The concerted drive installed drainage systems and upgraded shelters, and also gave families tie-down kits and plastic tarpaulins. Teams pre-positioned emergency items and expanded water and sanitation facilities.

Much emphasis was also placed on training and empowering the refugee communities as first responders. And while humanitarian agencies continue to strengthen essential infrastructure and pre-position relief items in the settlements, the shift in emergency planning this year is towards a community-centred approach.

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