All images: Lynette Nyman, IFRC
Around 671,000 people who fled violence in Myanmar in August 2017 are now living in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) are working together every day to improve shelter conditions for 30,000 people living in vulnerable areas in the camps.
A Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteer guides people who live in the camps through the relief line for shelter upgrade kits. Six-thousand families will receive kits that include two types of bamboo, plastic sheeting and tools, such as digging bar, cutting knife, rope, wire and nails, that will help them strengthen existing shelters before monsoon season peaks in July.
“Monsoon season is nearly upon us,” says IFRC shelter delegate Don Johnston. “These materials will help people reinforce their shelters. We’re giving them a variety of materials like bamboo, tarps, nails, wire, rope and tools to share like ladders and wheelbarrows.”
The distribution is a race against time, a race against the coming monsoon, so the IFRC and BDRCS will ramp up from reaching 100 households to 400 households every day to reach as many as possible before the monsoon. The strategy also shelter training. “This is absolutely appropriate for the upcoming monsoon,” says Steve McAndrew, IFRC Head of Emergency Operations.
Women and girls, like Hasina, comprise more than half of the camp residents. Many families are single, female-headed households. To help them during the distribution, they brought along others to carry the heavy items like bamboo.
“Nobody’s home is a good home,” says Mohammed Subair, who points across the plastic roof of his shelter in Cox’s Bazar. Thousands of flimsy, makeshift shelters are located on hillsides or in low-lying areas, which means an estimated 200,000 are at risk for floods and landslides when the monsoon season starts in June.
Of the 785,000 people living in the camps, around half are children. Making the best of a bad situation, some turn a morning downpour in to a makeshift swimming hole.