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Rains heap further woes on refugees

Monsoon rains sweeping across Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf have compounded the problems of the thousands of Rohingya refugees in the areas. It has also added a further headache to the government’s initiative to relocate the refugees to certain areas for a better relief distribution.

The resettlement drive has lessened the chaos in relief distribution but more needs to be done, aid workers said.

Many women, with children, still stand besides the roads under the pouring rain in hopes of getting relief from passing cars. 

While the roadside camps have mostly been cleared, the refugees from there are now building homes on forested hillside areas seeking higher grounds. Those who have come as recently as ten days ago are now resettling in previously uninhabited areas of Balukhali and Baguna. 

Rohingya families who had settled in low-lying areas have found their homes flooded, forcing them to leave. In a field near Gundum, on the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf road, a few hundred Rohingya families have been living in makeshift shelters. But the nearby Ukhia Ghaat Khal swelled following continuous rain, inundating the   field.

Nur Begum, a widow, who lost two daughters while escaping from Maungdaw in Myanmar, told this correspondent how the rains have only added to their sufferings. Having waded through knee-deep water with her remaining son and daughter, she seemed clearly fatigued.

“I left my home there and came here. Now, I have lost my home here as well,” she said.

As it kept raining since yesterday, the water levels began to rise around evening, submerging the field in knee-deep water. The current of the water was so strong that it threatened to sweep away the belongings of the refugees.

“I have been standing all night holding my belongings and so have my children. We could not sleep at all,” she said, before breaking down. 

In the area, many families were leaving the field as daylight broke, taking their belongings and heading towards the hillocks to resettle.

 

Rohingya refugees cross a submerged footbridge across a canal at Balukhali in Ukhia upazila of Cox’s Bazar yesterday. They moved to a new place after their makeshift shelters were flooded during high tide. Photo: Pinaki Roy

Around 150 meters away from the Cox’s Bazar Highway, new homes were being set up in the forested areas, with refugees abandoning the old ones.

Locals said that the flow of Rohingyas coming into the country has decreased since yesterday.

Locals in Rezu Aamtoli para, Lomba Beel, Anjuman Para and Shah Pori Dwip said that while over a 100 people were crossing into Bangladesh every day even two days ago, the weather has meant almost no new entrants.

The rough conditions of the Naf river and cautionary signal 3 have played a role in preventing the Rohingyas from Myanmar from crossing over.

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