GENEVA - U.N. agencies together with Bangladeshi authorities are making a big push to quickly move thousands of Rohingya refugees at risk of landslides and floods to safer areas of Cox's Bazar.
The Cox's Bazar area has been coping with one of the heaviest monsoon seasons in years in Bangladesh, with the heaviest downpours coming at the end of July.
U.N. refugee spokesman, William Spindler said the torrential rains have tested the abilities of the many preparations and emergency measures which had been made to withstand the ravages of the expected storms. He said there was great concern that many of the fragile structures sheltering the large Rohingya refugee population would be swept away.
"The refugee settlements have largely weathered the storms, proving the value of months of mitigation efforts. These activities go hand in hand with continuing intense efforts to ensure the massive refugee settlements can cope with the adverse weather. The scale is immense as for example Kutupalong refugee settlement, shelters more than 600,000 refugees on 13 square kilometers and it is today the largest such settlement in the world," he said.
Most of the more than 700,000 Rohingya who have fled violence and persecution from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August are living in makeshift shelters in this squalid, overcrowded camp.
Spindler said aid agencies have relocated nearly 24,000 refugees at high risk of landslides and floods. He said this is more than half of an estimated 41,000 Rohingya in greatest need of being moved to safer areas.