GENEVA - Deadly monsoon landslides in southern Bangladesh have destroyed over 1,200 shelters and displaced around 2,000 ethnic Rohingya from neighbouring Myanmar who need urgent assistance, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has said.

In an alert on Friday, Spokesperson Babar Baloch said that the agency and partners are stepping up support to assist some 8,000 mainly Rohingya refugees affected by the disaster earlier in the week.

“Teams have been mobilized to find shelter for those displaced as work continues to rehabilitate or fix damaged accommodation”, he said.

“In addition to shelter, affected refugees also urgently require food and household items as well as access to health care and psychosocial support.”

Cox’s Bazaar is a network of some 33 camps in Bangladesh that mainly house hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled persecution in Myanmar in 2017.

Extreme weather vulnerability

The camps are extremely “vulnerable to the effects of climate change and prone to natural disasters, UNHCR’s Mr. Baloch said, adding Cox’s Bazaar has seen more than 770 landslides and floods since 2017 - and more damage is expected with further rain forecast.

To help the humanitarian effort, the UN agency has issued an urgent appeal to donors as relief efforts in the camps have been “severely hampered by acute underfunding”.

UNHCR needs $275 million for its aid effort in Bangladesh this year but the appeal is just 25 per cent funded.

It is also critical that pledges made at last year’s Global Refugee Forum are fulfilled to advance self-reliance for Rohingya refugees and to ease the pressure on the Government of Bangladesh, UNHCR stressed.