Cox’s Bazar – Nearly one million Rohingya refugees are currently in refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

The majority are living in cramped conditions in the Kutupalong-Balukhali, the largest refugee camp in the world.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have arrived since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown on the minority group in August of last year, resulting in what the UN has described as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”

Children, the elderly, men and women all face difficult conditions in a sprawling temporary city built out of plastic sheets and bamboo.

Forbidden from building anything resembling a permanent structure, the refugees are huddled on top of each other in this “mega camp”. And they’re now facing a new crisis: the monsoons.

Bangladesh gets intense cyclonic storms and some of the most intense monsoon rains on earth.

With an estimated 2500mm of rain due to fall over the next few months, parts of the camp are at risk of flooding.

According to UNICEF, about 200,000 Rohingya refugees – over 50 percent of whom are children – are threatened by the anticipated rains.

Some 900 shelters and 200 latrines have already been destroyed, according to figures provided by aid agencies. Water points have been washed away and people have been buried under collapsing mud walls.

Aid groups are trying to move families to safer ground, but with hundreds of thousands of people on site, it is impossible to move them all. And with the inundation, the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera only grows.

Rohingya children stand on a flooded bamboo bridge during torrential rain in Balukhali, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 12, 2018. And with inundation, there looms the risk of the next big killer: waterborne diseases, such as cholera. Children are the most vulnerable to these diseases, and there are more than 100,000 of them at risk in the flooding.
Mariom Kafun, 40, tries to remove mud from the inside of her home after a landslides damaged her shelter during a night of heavy downpour in Kutupalong, part of the mega refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 10, 2018. With an estimated 2500mm of rain due to fall over the next few months, entire parts of the camp are at risk of flooding.
A Rohingya refugee sits with his belongings as he waits to be relocated to safer ground due to the threat caused by intense rains in Balukhali, Camp 17, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 12, 2018. Aid organisations are trying to move families to safer ground, but with hundreds of thousands of people on site, it is impossible to move them all.
A man cleans a drainage ditch by his home during heavy rain in Chakmakul, one of the camps sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 13, 2018. The beginning of the monsoon season is already eroding the foundations of many shelters, and the Rohingya families’ situations will only worse as the rains intensify over the next three months.
A boy carries logs for firewood freshly picked at a distance on the edge of the Kutupalong refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 10, 2018. What makes the situation alarming is that to make space to this unexpected exodus of refugees, the vegetation has been nearly totally stripped from hills.
Rohingya refugees shield from the rain in Balukhali, Camp 10, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 12, 2018. Daily landslides are expected, and agencies have put in place a mass casualty plan, with 200,000 people at risk.
Rohingya refugees shield from the rain in Balukhali, Camp 10, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 12, 2018. Bangladesh suffers intense cyclonic storms and some of the most intense monsoon rains on earth.
Children carry sandbags to secure the sides of their homes for fear of landslides in Kutupalong, part of the mega refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 10, 2018. The beginning of the monsoon season is already eroding the foundations of many shelters, and the Rohingya families’ situations will only worse as the rains intensify over the next three months.
Abdu Shukkur’s house was swept away by a mudslide, killing his three-year-old son and severly injuring his wife, Kutupalong, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 12, 2018. Having saved his children from the massacre, Abdu lamented that he had not been able to save his three-year-old son from the rain.
A girl holds her baby brother in her family’s home in Modurchara, Camp 5, part of the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 4, 2018. And with inundation, there looms the risk of the next big killer: waterborne diseases, such as cholera.
A man stacks bamboo poles used to reinforce the shelters of Rohingya refugees due to the expected heavy rains and storms during the monsoon season, Kutupalong, close to the refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, July 2, 2018. The biggest refugee camp in the world is battling the onset of the monsoon rains as humanitarian organisations on the ground and the Bangladeshi government are working hard to minimise the risks from landslides, flash floods, water born diseases and ultimately, loss of life.
Children are seen in a kiosk in Balukhali, part of a refugee camp sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya refugees, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, June 27, 2018. About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August last year after a string of attacks by insurgents triggered a violent response by the army in Myanmar.

by Siegfried Modola