Ex-UN chief concerned over monsoon floods in Rohingya camps

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh (AP) — Former United States (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern that monsoon floods could threaten the lives of Rohingya refugees in sprawling camps in Bangladesh.

Ban, who was visiting in his role as head of The Hague-based Global Commission on Adaptation to climate change, or GCA, said he was “saddened and dismayed” by what he saw while visiting the Kutupalong camp on Wednesday in the southern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, where more than one million Rohingya from Myanmar have fled military-backed persecution in their home country.

Bangladesh has a history of violent cyclones but has reduced the number of casualties from such natural disasters by investing in roads and other public infrastructure, building cyclone shelters and training volunteers across its vast coastal region, which has the world’s largest continuous beach.

Still, the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF said earlier this week in a statement that thousands of families living in the refugee camps and Bangladeshi communities in surrounding villages are at risk from flooding and landslides caused by heavy rainfall in the last few days. The situation is particularly grim in the camps, though many of the more than 4,000 families affected have been relocated to safer areas, it said.

One seven-year-old boy drowned following heavy rains, and two children were injured, the agency said. It said that schools and other facilities serving more than 60,000 children have been damaged.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gestures as he is briefed by Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen during a visit to the Kutupalong Rohingya refugees camp in the southern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. – AP