COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh Left drenched and near destitute by a cyclone that hit Bangladesh a day earlier, thousands of Rohingya refugees hunkered down in the ruins of their camps on Wednesday, waiting for help after a night in the rain.
At least seven people were killed and 50 injured by Cyclone Mora, according to Mohammad Ali Hussain, the chief administrator of Cox’s Bazar district, a sliver of land in southeast Bangladesh bordering Myanmar.
The border area that bore the brunt of the storm is home to refugee camps for Muslim Rohingyas who have fled from their homes in northwest Myanmar to escape communal violence and Myanmar army crackdowns.
“Initial reports suggest damage to shelter in camps sheltering Rohingya refugees, is severe,” the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator for Bangladesh said.
The Bangladeshi government has estimated that in all, there are about 350,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh following a new influx last October, when the Myanmar army launched an offensive in response to insurgent attacks.
Authorities in Cox’s Bazar and neighboring Chittagong district evacuated 350,000 people from low-lying areas before the storm roared in from the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday.
But most Rohingyas remained in their flimsy shelters in the camps when the storm struck, with priority given to evacuating only the most vulnerable, like heavily pregnant women.
Omar Farukh, a community leader in Kutupalong camp – one of several camps for Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar – described the misery of those left behind.
“We have passed a difficult time. We had no tin or plastic sheets above our heads and almost all of us passed the night in the rain,” Farukh told Reuters by telephone.
“We tried to save our belongings, whatever we have, with pieces of plastic sheet.”
A senior U.N. official working in Cox’s Bazar said there had been no reports of deaths in the camps, only some injuries.
The cyclone formed after monsoon rains triggered floods…