Cox’s Bazar Correspondent
As a cold wave is sweeping several districts of the country causing sufferings to the poor and the elderly, Rohingyas, living in poorly-built shelters, are no exception — they are suffering, too.
We’re suffering a lot, Abul Kalam, now living in Kutupalang camp in Ukhia upazila.. We’re eight members, including six daughters and sons. But, we’ve got only two blankets. Nobody can realise how worst the situation is for us and how we’re fighting with the biting cold each night, he said.Rohingya community leader Abdul Hamid who has been living in Rohingya camp for the last 10 years, said, I had never experienced such an intensity of cold. For the first time, I’m feeling such a bone-chilling cold.Hamid said the blankets, distributed by non-government organisations, are very thin and light, also of low quality. “So, these blankets aren’t enough to beat the heavy cold, and children are suffering a lot.”
The situation is even worst in some of the shelters which are mainly made of polyethylene sheets. Fogs get in through holes in the polyethylene-made roof and cold wind is getting in through the holes of bamboo-made walls.Considering all this, we aren’t fine at all, said another Rohingya – Ramjan Ali. While talking to The Daily Tribunal Aiyub, a local Rohingya leader in Balukhali camp, said the shanties in Rohingya cams are built hurriedly with very thin polyethylene roof and bamboo-made side-walls.In the last few months, holes developed on the roofs. So, both fogs and cold wind are getting into the shelters making our stay difficult, he said.Moahmmad Yunus, a resident of Kutupalang E-2 block, said his 10-member family has only one blanket. It’s very difficult to pass night with this one blanket in this heavy cold. Rohingyas are suffering from various cold-related diseases, locals said.
However, physician at Ukhia Upazila Health Complex Dr Misbah Uddin said the temperature in Cox’s Bazar remains tolerable compared to other parts of the country.So, diseases have not spread that much though cold is well-felt in the camps, said the doctor who is working in the Rohingya camp.Arrivals from Myanmar have significantly decreased, with over 2,200 refugees crossing into Bangladesh from December 1 to 26, compared to over 12,700 in November last.Meanwhile, discussions between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar are going on over their return, while the UNHCR has offered to help the two sides if they can ensure repatriation of international standards for the returnees.UNHCR and partners are working to address the logistical challenges of bringing large amounts of aid.Some 655,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017.
There were more than 2,200 new arrivals between 1 and 26 December 2017, a significant decrease in arrival trends compared to November, which saw the arrival of over 12,700 Rohingyas. On November 23, 2017, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a bilateral ‘arrangement’ on the return of refugees to Myanmar. A Joint Working Group (JWG) consisting of government representatives from Myanmar and Bangladesh was subsequently formed on December 19 last. JWG is tasked to develop a specific instrument on the physical arrangement for the repatriation of returnees.
The first meeting of the JWG will be held on Monday in Myanmar’s capital. As the UNHCR has been sampling Rohingyas’ views on return, a majority of those interviewed indicated that they will need to see some positive developments, particularly their citizenship, security, and the possibility for them to enjoy their basic rights before considering returning to Myanmar.
Cox’s Bazar Correspondent