Refugees International (RI) is greatly concerned for those affected by Cyclone Mora and urges a swift response to assist vulnerable populations and those most impacted by the storm, including Rohingya refugees living in fragile makeshift camps in the east and south of Bangladesh. Daniel Sullivan, RI’s Senior Advocate for Human Rights, just returned from Bangladesh a few days ago, where he visited several of these makeshift Rohingya refugee camps. Thousands of Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh, fleeing targeted violence and other abuses in Myanmar in recent months.
“Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh fled unspeakable horrors across the border in Myanmar and have been scrambling to survive in temporary camps,” said Sullivan. “Already among the world’s most vulnerable people, the Rohingya now are facing a further calamity. Their crowded shelters made of mud and flimsy tarps have surely been devastated in the cyclone, creating an urgent need for a swift emergency response.”
Sullivan added, “Cyclone Mora is a reminder not only of the need for better immediate protections for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, but also of the critical urgent need for a durable solution to the long-standing plight of the Rohingya. As the tragedy captures international attention I hope that it will be a catalyst for redoubled efforts to address the root causes of vulnerability of the Rohingya, which lies within Myanmar.”
Decades of persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar has caused hundreds of thousands to flee across the border to live in camps in Bangladesh. This includes more than 70,000 Rohingya refugees estimated by the United Nations to have fled Myanmar since October 2016 when an attack by Rohingya militants on border guard posts killed nine officers and was followed by a widespread crackdown by the Myanmar Army on the Rohingya community in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. A United Nations report found that widespread abuses had taken place, including burning of homes, rapes, and torture, and the United Nations Human Rights Council has established a Fact-Finding Mission, with which the Government of Myanmar is refusing to cooperate.