Press Release

As Cyclone Mocha damages Rohingya refugee camps, aid and support is urgently needed

15 May 2023

Nearly a million Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi communities in three districts face the devastating impact of Cyclone Mocha. Although the impact of the cyclone could have been much worse, the refugee camps have been severely affected, leaving thousands desperately needing help. The UN and humanitarian partners urgently appeal for aid to address the dire situation.

Cyclone Mocha struck the Bangladesh-Myanmar border on Sunday (14 May) afternoon, bringing heavy rains, strong winds of up to 115 kilometers per hour, and devastating damage to the fragile infrastructure of Rohingya refugee camps and shelters made of bamboo and tarpaulin. Initial assessments reveal that thousands of families have been affected and homes and key facilities have been destroyed, especially in the Rohingya camps in the Teknaf area and neighbouring Bangladeshi communities.

The UN and its partners, along with government agencies, are on the ground to provide emergency relief to the affected communities. Rapid assessments are ongoing. As homes and key facilities were destroyed, immediate priorities include the provision of emergency shelter, clean drinking water, food supplies and ensuring access to health and sanitation facilities.

The Government of Bangladesh, in close coordination with the UN and its partners, developed a strong preparedness response, and  continue working tirelessly to provide emergency relief to the affected communities, including women, children, people with disabilities and those more vulnerable to different risks.

The Rohingya refugees themselves have bravely been at the forefront of the cyclone response, with more than 3,000 Rohingya men and women trained and equipped as first responders in fires, floods and cyclones helping their community stay safe before, during and after the cyclone. They helped evacuate people residing in landslide-prone areas and those with specific needs to safer locations within the camps.

“The preparedness efforts of the humanitarian community, led by the Government of Bangladesh, have saved lives. UN agencies and humanitarian partners prepositioned core relief items in the last week, and mobile medical teams were on standby to assist Bangladeshi and refugee communities,” said Gwyn Lewis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

“The trail of destruction, with thousands of refugees seeing their shelters destroyed or damaged, requires our urgent response. The UN calls upon donors, NGOs, and individuals to rally in support of all those affected by Cyclone Mocha. Urgent financial contributions and donations of essential relief items are crucial to meet the immediate needs of those affected and to build back better,” said the Resident Coordinator. "We cannot stand idle in the face of this devastating humanitarian crisis."

This year’s humanitarian appeal for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis is only 16% funded.  Funding shortfalls have already led to a 17% cut in food assistance. The Rohingya refugees have endured unimaginable hardships, some thousands losing all their belongings in a huge fire just weeks ago. Cyclone Mocha has only compounded their suffering and made it more difficult to provide life saving support to refugees in Bangladesh.

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United Nations Resident Coordinator Office

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