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2,826 shanties damaged in Rohingya camps

Some 2,826 shanties were damaged in the Rohingya camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya of Cox’s Bazar due to the impact of Cyclone Mocha, according to a report prepared by the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), the government’s point man on the ground in Cox’s Bazar.

The report that was circulated around 11pm on Sunday also said seven refugees were injured during the storm.

Although fully reliable accounts may take at least another day to emerge, initial reactions and assessments from some officials on the ground and experts with a focus on the Rohingya situation indicate that the refugee camps close to the border with Myanmar, which bore the brunt of the ‘very severe’ cyclonic storm, managed to escape the worst of Mocha.

UNB was keepingan eye on a number of their accounts on social media, especially Twitter, which they use regularly to organize and coordinate and ‘get the word out’.

While the Rohingyas currently housed in Bhasan Char were evacuated to the 53 cyclone shelters on the island as a preventive measure before the storm struck, those in the Cox’s Bazar camps mostly stayed put, with efforts leading up to the storm concentrating on fortifying their modest dwellings.

UNHCR BGD, the UN Refugee Agency’s office in Bangladesh, tweeted at about 9.30pm on Sunday: “Timely evacuations of people at risk to communal shelters in the refugee camps, led by Rohingya refugee first responders with the support of the Government of Bangladesh & humanitarian agencies, helped save lives during #CycloneMocha.”

The chief of mission of the IOM, Abdusattor Esoev, tweeted right as the storm was making landfall: “As one of the leading agencies of the #RohinygaResponse, IOM has taken all necessary initiatives to respond to the cyclone, in coordinating with #GoB & other humanitarian actors.”
Couple of hours later, he tweeted again: “Strong wind of #CycloneMocha, though milder than expected, is damaging facilities in #RohingyaRefugees camp. We will need to restore them along with all damaged shelters once the Cyclone is over.”

The IOM is the coordinating agency behind the ISCG, or Inter Sector Coordination Group, aka Rohingya Refugee Response, an umbrella of numerous organisations involved in the effort over the last 6 years.

The group’s principal coordinator, Arjun Jain, who is based in Cox’s Bazar, tweeted at about 10pm Sunday: “CycloneMocha has left Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar stands down from Signal 10 to 3. We escaped the eye of the storm, but the damage is still extensive. Rains continue. The risk of landslides is real. Thx to GoB and to #Rohingya #refugee volunteers. Data forthcoming.”

Meanwhile, Islamic Relief Bangladesh, a charity group involved in the humanitarian efforts in the camps, tweeted photos of IRB staffs and volunteers supporting the Rohingyas to repair their damaged shelters at camp 7 Ukhiya, immediately after the landfall of cyclone Mocha.

This isn’t to say there are no images or reports of roofs getting blown off, or caving in, trees getting knocked down onto the shelters, and what not.

The Twitter account of Rohingyatographer Magazine, which showcases ” independent photography from a collective of Rohingya photographers in the world’s largest refugee camp”, has been full of such images since Sunday.

Yet even they tweeted, seemingly in relief, around 11.15pm Sunday: “CycloneMocha left Bangladesh. #Rohingya Refugee Camp escaped from the Cyclone. Despite, huge numbers of shelters and facilities being damaged. Camps in Teknaf were severely affected.”

Besides there have been no casualties reported.

We will see these claims get substantiated, or not, in the coming days.