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Thousands of Rohingya refugees warned over risk of floods

On a dusty hillside in Bangladesh, 800 new Rohingya refugees arrive at Kutupalong camp.

Tired, hungry and sick, the journey’s been long and it’s taken its toll.

The world’s biggest refugee camp is now their new home.

But after escaping conflict, more danger looms for around 100,000 Rohingyas – months of deadly rains may bring flash floods and landslides, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned.

Rohingya refugees reluctant to return home to Myanmar

The wet weather is expected to start in late March and aid agencies fear thousands of houses precariously perched on dusty hillsides could be washed into the valley below, which in turn could fill with stinking, stagnant water.

They’re desperately trying to move the most at risk before time runs out.

rohingya camps
The dusty landscape could soon be replaced by monsoons

Richard Evans from the UNHCR estimated at least 20% of the camp could be at risk.

“People are calling this the emergency within the emergency,” he told Sky News.

“The numbers are staggering, it’s a 100,000 people out of 560,000 people who will be directly impacted from the flooding and the landslip but don’t forget that fire is a huge risk, don’t forget communicable diseases is a huge risk.”

Hundreds of thousands, including children, fled conflict
Hundreds of thousands, including children, have fled conflict

And in cramped conditions disease spreads fast.

A diphtheria outbreak infected thousands last year but doctors fear there’s worse to come.

“During the monsoon in Bangladesh, in this area cholera and diarrhoea are very common and other waterborne diseases like typhoid fever,” warned Dr Simour from charity Save the Children.

Emergency services aid refugees hit by diptheria

“We have to think about those diseases now.”

The Rohingya refugees are amongst the poorest people on earth.

Everyone in the camps relies on aid.

But disease, floods and storms now bring a new threat to a group that has already survived so much.

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