Cyclone Fani prompts refugee safety review in Bangladesh

People fix their damaged homes amid high waters in Khulna on May 4, 2019, as Cyclone Fani reached Bangladesh. Photo: AFP/Munir Uz Zaman

DHAKA, May 7, 2019, Asia Times. After the strongest storm in years devastated the state of Odisha in eastern India and parts of Bangladesh, UN agencies are monitoring its movements closely and taking measures to protect people living in refugee camps near Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, reported the Asia Times.

UN News reported on May 3 that the impact of Cyclone Fani, as the storm was called, was expected to be “less severe in areas such as … Cox’s Bazar” where nearly one million Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are housed in makeshift huts and similar, potentially vulnerable structures.

Even so, the UN had extra food and other supplies in place in the camps. “Tie-down kits” have been distributed “to secure houses and shelters … [and to] avoid any loss of lives.”

In other parts of Bangladesh, schools were shut, airports closed and transport suspended. The World Food Program said in a statement quoted by UN News that “its staff had completed engineering and disaster risk reduction work around Cox’s Bazar to make the camps safer and more accessible during the monsoon and cyclone seasons.”

The world’s largest refugee camp is located near Cox’s Bazar and efforts to have the refugees repatriated to Myanmar have made little progress. Plans to relocate some of the refuges to an island off the coast of Bangladesh may also be re-considered after Cyclone Fani. The island, Bhashan Char, is in one of Asia’s most cyclone-prone areas.

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