The UN agencies have called for an “urgent” aid to help hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Myanmar affected by Cyclone Mora, which swept across the Bay of Bengal earlier this week. “There is an urgent need for shelter materials,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic, told journalists in Geneva. “Food rations, drinking water, and latrines are some of the other needs identified so far in the cyclone-affected areas,” Mahecic said, adding that more needs are likely to be identified as governments in Bangladesh and Myanmar complete their ongoing assessments of the damage. The Rohingya community displaced in Myanmar and are living in settlements in Bangladesh have been particularly hard hit.
In Bangladesh, there are more than 33,000 Rohingya refugees registered in the official camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara. Outside the camps, more than 200,000 undocumented Rohingyas are living in makeshift sites and local villages in the south-eastern part of the country. In Myanmar, some 120,500 internally displaced people have been living in central Rakhine since 2012, when inter-communal violence forced them to flee, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched an appeal for USD 3.7 million to help the Rohingya in Bangladesh. The funds aim to help up to 80,000 people between now and the end of the year, and “will target health, water, sanitation, shelter, and protection.”
The cyclone, which pounded Bangladesh with 117 km/hour winds and heavy rain, tore through the settlement houses which offered little resistance to the storm’s strength. “The storm destroyed 25 percent of the shelters and left as many as 80 percents damaged,” IOM said. “Food and fuel supplies were destroyed, electricity lines were cut, and health and sanitation infrastructure was also badly damaged,” it said. Some 1.3 million children are estimated to be in urgent need of aid as a result of the storm.
The Director of Emergency Programme at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Manuel Fontaine, warned that children from the Rohingya community, who were already displaced and living in precarious conditions before the cyclone, are now “hit by a double humanitarian crisis.” Cyclone Mora, packing winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour, is a tropical cyclone that caused widespread impacts across Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bangladesh, Northeast India, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Tibet. The cyclone made landfall in Bangladesh on Tuesday, tearing through the southwest districts including low-lying areas. It killed at least nine persons and rendered over 50,000 families homeless besides causing widespread damage in coastal regions.