UN Warns Rohingya Refugees at Risk as Cyclone Season Approaches

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on January 16 that the more than 520,000 Rohingya children living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements in Bangladesh faced catastrophic conditions caused by extreme weather.

UNICEF said that refugees in Bangladesh were likely to be put at even greater risk during cyclone and monsoon seasons. They said unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene could lead to cholera outbreaks and hepatitis, and that mosquitoes would be attracted to standing pools of water. UNICEF said the cyclone season also brought an increased risk of flooding and landslides.

More than 4,000 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported among the refugee population, and 24 of the reported 32 deaths were children, UNICEF said.

Tropical cyclones generally strike Bangladesh in two seasons, March through July and September through December. The greatest number of storms arrive in May and October. In May 2017, Cyclone Mora barreled through the region, destroying approximately one quarter of the makeshift shelters in Rohingya refugee camps and causing widespread damage. Credit: UNICEF via Storyful