DHAKA – The situation in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh has improved considerably six months after the crisis erupted, although facilities are overcrowded and conditions could worsen with the advent of the monsoons, humanitarian agencies warned on Sunday.
“In the first days and weeks after Aug. 25, new arrivals from Myanmar were sleeping in the open air. There were severe shortages of food and clean water and little by way of latrine and sanitation facilities,” Fiona MacGregor, a spokesperson of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told EFE.
“Since then, IOM and partners have reached around 600,000 people with shelter materials and worked along with other agencies and the Bangladesh authorities to provide road, bridges, drains and latrines, all of which have resulted in notable improvements in conditions in the camps,” she said.
However, MacGregor warned that the refugee camps continued to remain “desperately overcrowded and far below any kind of international standard for acceptable living conditions.”
United Nations High Commission for Refugees spokesperson Caroline Gluck said they are now moving from an emergency phase into more of a consolidation phase regarding the situation of the Rohingyas.
However, Gluck expressed her extreme concern over the imminent monsoon season and consequent floods and landslides.
To mitigate these effects, UNHCR has started moving around 300 families to other parts of the camps where there is less risk.
The repatriation of Rohingya refugees – of whom 688,000 arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar since August last year – was supposed to have commenced within two months of the signing of a treaty between Bangladesh and Myanmar on Nov. 23.
The current crisis began on Aug. 25, following an attack by an insurgent group.
That sparked a violent response by Myanmar’s military in the state of Rakhine, where it is estimated that around one million Muslim minority Rohingyas lived.
They are not recognized as citizens by the Myanmar authorities.
The United Nations and various human rights organizations have said there is clear evidence of human rights abuses in Myanmar, with the UNHCR calling the army’s operations “ethnic cleansing” and saying there were indications of “genocide.”