Cate Blanchett Just Warned the World About the Latest Risk for Rohingya Refugees
Monsoon-related floods could be lethal for the Rohingya in refugee camps.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have survived violent persecution in Myanmar followed by disease and poverty in refugee camps in Bangladesh, but they are about to face another major threat, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ Ambassador Cate Blanchett.
During a recent visit to refugee camps in Bangladesh, Blanchett, an Academy-Award winning actress, began warning the international community about the monsoon-related floods and landslides that are expected to hit the region in the coming months.
“The Rohingya refugees have already experienced targeted violence, human rights abuses, and horrific journeys,” Blanchett added. “They have shown unimaginable resilience and courage.”
But, she added, the government of Bangladesh, the UNHCR, and other humanitarian sponsors are in a “race against time” to ensure that refugees are safe and secure during the regions annual flooding.
Since August 2017, roughly 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar crossed into neighboring Bangladesh due to persecution and violence. Accounts of mass graves, indiscriminate violence, targeted starvation, and systematic rape have compelled the United Nations to condemn the “hallmarks of genocide" inside Myanmar.
The sudden nature of the exodus meant that refugee camps had to be assembled quickly in Bangladesh and, too often, families were given inadequate shelter.
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Without sturdy and secure homes, refugees exposed in makeshift camps face a high risk of injury, disruption, or death from monsoon-related flooding, the UNHCR said in a statement.
During the annual monsoon season, parts of Southeast Asia can experience devastating floods and landslides. In 2017, for example, monsoon-related flooding killed more than 1,200 people and affected 41 million more, the UN reports.
And around the world, storms fueled by climate change-related factors like higher precipitation are growing even more intense.
“I cannot stress how much more help is needed for these vulnerable stateless refugees, the majority of whom are women and children,” Blanchett said. “This is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, the monsoons are coming, and it is critical that the international community, private sector, and individuals all do that they can to support these stateless refugees and the communities hosting them.”