‘This is like a nightmare’

Fun in the wet: A child paddling a makeshift raft at Maulovir Para in Cox’s Bazar after monsoon floods cut off more than 300,000 people in south-east Bangladesh. — AFP

Heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides and flash floods in refugees camps displacing thousands of Rohingya Muslims in southeastern Bangladesh, UN and other officials said.

At least six Rohingya, including three children, died in landslides and flooding while 15 Bangladeshis were killed and more than 200,000 stranded by flooding in Cox’s Bazar, Mamunur Rashid, the district administrator, said on Friday.

Nearly one million Rohingya live in crowded camps in the border district of Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee settlement, after fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.

The refugees mostly live in shacks made of bamboo and plastic sheets that cling to steep, bare hills.

TV footage showed flooded homes and muddy water cascading down steps and hillsides. Children played in chest-high waters.

“This is like a nightmare. I have never seen such flooding in the camps in four years.

“When the water came, there was nobody from my family at home to help me.

“Although I was alone, I still managed to move all our belongings to a safer place. Now I am staying with another family,” said Rohingya refugee Rokeya Begum.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said more than 21,000 refugees had been “affected” by the flooding while nearly 4,000 shelters had been damaged or destroyed.

It said more than 13,000 were forced to relocate in the camps, while thousands of facilities were damaged, including health clinics and toilets.

Access has been hindered due to damage to roads, pathways and bridges.

Refugees, many of them still recovering from massive fires that tore through the camps in March, said landslides and floods left homes “totally covered with mud”.

“Somehow my family members managed to evacuate,” said Abu Siddique, who lives in the Balukhali refugee camp.

“The mud that came down from the hill entered my home. All of our belongings inside are covered in mud.” — Reuters

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