Wednesday, 20 June 2018

World's largest refugee camp in Bangladesh is filthy death trap for residents who escaped genocide

As the monsoon rains clatter on flimsy canvas roofs, the clay walkways of the world’s biggest refugee camp turn into a quagmire.
Stood underneath a sagging ­makeshift shelter, I look on as jagged bolts of lightning streak the black sky and the wind whips up.
This temporary city, cobbled together in less than a year with bamboo poles, scraps of tarpaulin and twine, looks like it will be knocked down any instant.
For the 700,000 Rohingya refugees here in Bangladesh – who have escaped the worst genocide of this century in neighbouring Myanmar – the storms I witness are just the beginning of a three-month nightmare.
Their temporary homes are directly in the path of the cyclones that plague this vulnerable region from now until September.
After being tortured and raped – and seeing their relatives murdered by soldiers in Myanmar who torched their villages – they are now prey to landslides, floods and waterborne diseases.
Scores of people have died in recent days, including a two-year-old boy after a mud wall collapsed on him.
At a Red Cross field hospital on the edge of the seemingly never-ending Kutupalong camp is nine-month-old Mohammad Ayas.

he helpless little boy broke his thigh bone when he fell from one of the treacherous slopes between the shelters.
Icelandic nurse Hildur Sveinsdottir – here for a one-month secondment from her normal A&E job – tells me such accidents are soon expected to occur daily.
"Fractures are very regular for us,” Hildur says.
“It’s unimaginable what it will be like in a few weeks. The number of people getting injured or being killed will rise a lot if they get a really bad cyclone. Their shelters will not stand up.”

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