Tearfund scales up support for Rohingya refugees as monsoon rains bring fresh misery

A child wades through mud after a storm at the Chakmarkul refugee camp, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh June 10, 2018.Reuters

Monsoon rains are bringing fresh misery to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims sheltering in refugee camps around Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. 

Tearfund has already been working on the ground to provide practical assistance to the refugees but has scaled up its response after the deluge of heavy rains caused the already difficult conditions in the camps to deteriorate further. 

As a result of the continuous rains, drains have become blocked and latrines have started to overflow, making day to day life uncomfortable and unsanitary. 

But the 900,000 refugees are also at increased risk of mudslides as hillsides in the area have become unstable due to the heavy rains. 

"Camp life has become extremely messy and muddy due to the heavy and continuous rain," said James Rana, international development agency Tearfund's Rohingya Response Manager in Bangladesh.

"Tearfund already has programmes in place which we are able to step up quickly in response to the waterlogged conditions: we've immediately increased our existing programmes to clear blocked drains, desludge latrines and strengthen temporary shelters.

"The hilly ground is unstable and excessive rain brings the threat of landslides, so we have been planting trees in addition to our existing measures to discourage the cutting of vegetation." 

A view of the shelters at Cox's Bazar(Photo: Tearfund/Ralph Hodgson)

The rains have added to the suffering of the Rohingya sheltering there, who were forced to flee their homes in their native Myanmar due to human rights abuses. 

Tearfund is appealing for funds to increase its assistance to the Rohingya people.  It said that conditions in the refugee camps are generally "extremely basic" and that the Rohingya currently have "little prospect" of being able to return home.

Around 7,700 of the refugees are orphans. 

One child being supported by Tearfund is 12-year-old Rojeya - whose real name has been changed to protect her identity. 

She saw her childhood home burnt to the ground and her two brothers killed in front of her, harrowingly one set alight and the other brutally thrown into the river. 

She is being supported through a Tearfund-operated safe space for young people that is helping children affected by the crisis to recover from the trauma they have experienced.

Clubs have been set up by the Christian development agency where children and young people in the camps can come to play, learn, read, draw, write, sing and talk to trained therapists.  They are also taught about health and hygiene.