Living in shacks clinging to steep, denuded hills, they pray that the sandbags fortifying the slopes will survive the upcoming monsoon.
IOM is putting debris-removal equipment and work crews throughout the camps, it said, and trying to improve roads and stabilise slopes. It is also setting up emergency diarrhoea treatment centres and providing search and rescue and first aid training, AFP reports.
Bangladesh disaster management secretary Shah Kamal said the government was working with the UN to relocate 133,000 people living in high-risk areas. It is also launching a Rohingya-language radio station that will act as a natural disaster warning system, he said.
Bangladesh government officials have also previously told Reuters they are pushing ahead with a controversial plan to turn an uninhabited island in the Bay of Bengal into a temporary home for the Rohingya and move 100,000 refugees there ahead of the monsoon.
Flooding increases the risk of disease outbreaks. It could also threaten access to medical facilities, making them difficult to reach and restock, the modelling shows. Latrines, washrooms and tube wells may also be flooded.
The risk of landslides has been exacerbated by refugee families needing firewood to cook. Trees were cut down to make way for the refugees, who also dug up the roots for firewood, making the slopes even weaker and prone to collapse.
“This was a forest when I first arrived,” said Arafa Begum, 40, who lives with her three children in a shack on a barren, vertiginous slope in Chakmakul camp. She said she wanted to move before the monsoon but must await the instructions of the majhi, or block leader.
The majhi’s name is Jahid Hussain. “I don’t know what I’ll do when the rain comes,” he told Reuters. “It depends on Allah.”