HRW fears Rohingya refugees at risk of landslides and flooding

The imminent threat for Rohingya refugees is the likelihood that the Cox’s Bazar area will be hit by a cyclone or comparable high winds and storm-surge flooding. Acording to Human Rights Watch (HRW), as of June 10, 2018, about 215,000 refugees in the Cox’s Bazar area were at risk of landslides and flooding, with 42,000 at highest risk, but only 19,500 had been relocated from highest risk locations, as of July 4. Evacuation plans in the event of a cyclone or other serious weather event were stymied by the government’s movement restrictions on the refugees and a lack of stable structures in which to evacuate people. 

In its latest report “The Plight of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar”, HRW has lauded that Bangladesh’s respect for the principle of nonrefoulement is especially praiseworthy at a time when many other countries are building walls, pushing asylum seekers back at borders, and deporting people without adequately considering their protection claims. Currently, more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees are in the Cox’s Bazar area in Bangladesh’s southern tip. 

HRW deplored that the burdens of dealing with this mass influx have mostly fallen on Bangladesh, responsibility for the crisis lies with Myanmar. It expressed severe concern that the Myanmar military’s large-scale campaign of killings, rape, arson, and other abuses amounting to crimes against humanity caused the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh.

HRW pointed out that another challenge facing Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is the lack of recognized legal status, which puts them on precarious legal footing under domestic law. All the new arrivals are officially registered as “Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals,” a designation that denies their refugee status and any rights attached to that status.

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