United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the health and safety of over 520,000 Rohingya children living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar district is likely to be put at even greater risk.
UNICEF on Tuesday gave this warning ahead an upcoming monsoon cyclone seasons announcing that “as we get closer to the cyclone and monsoon seasons, what is already a dire humanitarian situation risks becoming a catastrophe.
Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh said in a statement.
“Hundreds of thousands of children are already living in horrific conditions, they will face greater risk of disease, flooding, landslides and further displacement,”
He said that unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene conditions can lead to cholera outbreaks and to Hepatitis E, a deadly disease for pregnant women and their babies, standing water pools can attract malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
“Keeping children safe from disease must be an absolute priority,” Beigbeder said.
More than 4,000 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported among the refugee population while 32 deaths including at least 24 children have been recorded.
UNICEF and partners said earlier that they launched a diphtheria vaccination campaign in Bangladesh to help the situation.
The organization which is currently providing children and families with access to safe water and sanitation facilities said overcrowding and the growing trend of extreme weather condition increased the risk of the outbreaks.
In addition to the increased threat of disease outbreaks, the cyclone season brings an increased risk of flooding and landslides, a direct risk to children’s lives.
However, the regular monsoon rains starting in June could bring devastating landslides and floods.
There is a serious risk that shelters, water systems, latrines and other infrastructure could be severely damaged in storms or floods.
Information gathered reveals that the government of Bangladesh has taken in more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees since August 25th already.
It has been working with UNICEF to deliver life-saving support to the most recent and previous influxes of Rohingya refugees as well the host community in Cox’s Bazar, located some 292 km southeast of Dhaka.
According to weather calendar, tropical cyclones generally strike Bangladesh in two seasons, which are March through July and September through December, with the greatest number of storms arriving in May and October.
Historically, the Rohingya people are also termed Arakanese Indians. They are a stateless Indo-Aryan-speaking people from Rakhine State, Myanmar, spreading to over 13 countries including Canada United states of America.