Regional Authorities Fail to Protect Displaced People amid Cyclone Mocha, Endangering Lives

On May 14, Cyclone Mocha made landfall, causing widespread destruction along the coasts of Myanmar and Bangladesh and endangering millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Refugees International’s Director for Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, Daniel P. Sullivan, released the following statement:

“Refugees International is extremely concerned about the impacts of Cyclone Mocha, both for the people of Bangladesh and Myanmar and the hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in precarious conditions in the region. Rohingya in the largest refugee settlement in the world in Bangladesh have expressed fear of being forgotten and having nowhere to go to stay safe amid the storm. Failure to evacuate Rohingya from the camps—or even let them leave—has endangered countless lives. While the nightmare scenario of a direct hit on the camps was avoided, Cyclone Mocha underscores the ongoing vulnerability of the camps at a time of quickly declining humanitarian funding. The United States and other donors must sustain support and engage Bangladesh toward building greater resilience.

In Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has seen some of the worst devastation from the cyclone, the military junta had already constrained the delivery of lifesaving aid and confined more than 100,000 Rohingya to internal displacement camps. As the extent of the storm’s damage becomes clearer, aid actors must ensure an equitable response for all in the affected area, including refugees and internally displaced people.

All people who find themselves in the path of danger must be allowed to seek safety, not left trapped behind barbed wire.

As climate change accelerates, extreme weather events like this are becoming more frequent and more severe. Refugee settlements that are vulnerable to extreme climate hazards, like Cox’s Bazar, must become better adapted to climate risks. And the rights of refugees to move to safety—which were denied by the government of Bangladesh in this storm—must be respected.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Refugees International Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at

Featured Image: A girl looks out from a tuk tuk while evacuating in Sittwe in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on May 13, 2023, ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Mocha. (Photo by SAI AUNG MAIN/AFP via Getty Images)