Thousands moved to safety after landslides at Bangladesh refugee camp

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Onlookers stand as Rohingya refugees work amid the debris of houses in Balukhali camp that were damaged after heavy downpour [Tanbir Miraj/AFP]
Onlookers stand as Rohingya refugees work amid the debris of houses in Balukhali camp that were damaged after heavy downpour [Tanbir Miraj/AFP]

More than 5,000 Rohingya Muslims have been relocated to safety after their flimsy shelters at refugee camps in south-eastern Bangladesh were damaged by persistent rain, flooding, landslides and stormy weather, the UN Refugee Agency said on Wednesday.

Initial reports suggest more than 2,500 shelters that house at least 12,000 refugees have been affected, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement.

The statement came a day after at least five Rohingya Muslims were reportedly killed in a landslide at Balukhali camp of Cox’s Bazar district.

The UN agency, however, confirmed six deaths from the landslide.

Mohammd Noor, a Rohingya leader, told dpa that many refugees are now sheltered at community centres and schools after they lost their homes. Many others moved to their relatives’ homes, he said.

More than 1 million refugees are living in sprawling camps in Bangladesh’s south-eastern Cox’s Bazar district after they fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.

Nearly 750,000 of them crossed the border after Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown against the minority group in August 2017.

The district experienced heavy rain for the last three days, inundating many parts of its low-laying areas, where some of the refugee camps are located.

Aid agencies and refugee volunteers have been on the ground to provide support to those forced to temporarily relocate, UNHCR spokeswoman Hannah Macdonald said.

Emergency response teams are being deployed to assess the damage and start shelter repairs immediately to ensure the refugees’ access to essential services, she said.

The rain-triggered landslide also killed five children of a family in the Teknaf sub-district outside the refugee camps on Wednesday.

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