Up to 200,000 Rohingyas at risk from monsoon rains in Bangladesh

Geneva, May 2: The UN International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) on Tuesday said that up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including 55,000 children, are at risk from the imminent monsoon, including pre-monsoon rain and storms that have already hit refugee camps in Cox's Bazaar.

Rohingya children were at greater risk of contracting infectious diseases as the monsoon season hits Bangladesh in June and stays on till September, Efe news cited Unicef as saying.

"We estimate that more than 100,000 people, including approximately 55,000 children, are at risk due to floods and landslides. It's possible that this figure could go up to 200,000 people depending on the intensity of rains," Unicef spokesperson Christophe Boulierac said in Geneva.

Lack of sanitation and hygiene, coupled with injuries can impact children whose immune systems are already weakened by acute malnutrition, said Boulierac.

He added that a recent mapping of 7,727 tubewells showed that almost half (47 per cent) of them and nearly one-third of public toilets were at risk of being affected by floods and landslides.

"At least three of the 24 health centres supported by Unicef are at risk of flooding during the monsoon, which could affect between 25,000 and 30,000 refugees, more than half of them children," Boulierac added.

Unicef is building five additional diarrhoea treatment centres -- one of which was already open while two will open towards the end of this week and another two around the end of May.

The organisation had also built 10 health facilities that can attend to around 250,000 Rohingyas, said Boulierac, adding that they were working along with the Bangladesh government and the World Health Organisation to begin a second round of cholera vaccination, covering some one million refugees.

Unicef and its partners had a capacity to treat 35,000 children below the age of five, said the spokesperson, adding that they also set up five mobile units that can reach remote areas and keep "essential nutrition supplies in large stock" ahead of the imminent monsoon season.