Kutupalong – Balukhali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. 12 June 2018. As monsoon season sets in, Red Cross Red Crescent partners are keeping on with shelter relief in spite of monsoon rain pouring in the camps for three days and counting. People need this help more than ever.

Photo: Lynette Nyman/IFRC

With the monsoon rains already causing misery and with cyclone season approaching, hundred of thousands of displaced people stranded in Bangladesh are losing all hope, an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) expert warned on Monday.

Steve McAndrew MBE has just finished a four-month assignment as Head of Emergency Operations for IFRC in Bangladesh. Speaking at a press conference at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday 25 June, McAndrew said that the monsoon rains are already causing chaos in the makeshift camps hosting some 898,000 displaced people in Cox’s Bazar.

“Each year [with IFRC] I see more need, but this last operation in Cox’s Bazar was to me some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said.

“One of the things that’s lacking here is hope – there’s no end in sight, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for the people we’re serving.”

As well as providing medical and psychosocial support, water and sanitation, shelter, disaster risk reduction and livelihoods services, volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and IFRC are using Community Engagement and Accountability services to support the displaced people and listen to their concerns.

McAndrew said: “We’re letting them know that we’re listening, and we are spreading the word so that the world knows this situation is difficult, untenable, inhumane.

“These people want the same things we want: they want to be safe, they want a safe place for their kids to go to school, they want to be able to eat, and they want to contribute and to have something to strive for in the future.

With no solution to the crisis in sight, there are concerns that the world’s attention will move on, leading to a drop in the vital resources needed to protect the refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. IFRC and its humanitarian partners are already being “asked to do more and more with less and less resources”, McAndrew warned.

“Meanwhile, people are still standing on buckets in their plastic sheet shelters to stay out of the water, and the rain keeps falling.

“The Red Cross and Red Crescent have the people, the energy, the know-how, the volunteers and the willingness, but we’re starting to run out of supplies and the capacity to adapt as new floods popup in the camps and we have to move people around, so we really need people to not forget that this is going on,” he said.