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“If I had stayed in my shelter, I would be dead now”

Emergency Prevention

Cyclone Mocha hit Bangladesh and Myanmar on Sunday, 14 May. Our teams are currently assessing the damage and needs in Cox's Bazar refugee camps.

Abdur, a Rohingya refugee, lost everything after Mocha cyclone

Abdur, a Rohingya refugee, lost everything after Mocha cyclone | © HI

Abdur, a 57-year-old Rohingya refugee, still hasn't processed what happened on Sunday. Hours before the super cyclone slammed into the hills of Cox's Bazar, HI staff evacuated him to a safer place. He returned after Mocha had passed through to find his shelter totally destroyed: 

"I’ve lost everything. With my wheelchair, I can’t access anything, not even the toilet. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. If I’d stayed in my shelter, I’d be dead now. I don't know how I'm going to feed myself or move around the camp, I'm stuck here.” 

In response to Abdur's distress, our teams have assured him that they will provide him with all the necessary support and his shelter will be rebuilt.

HI teams helped to relocate nearly 600 vulnerable people to safety before the cyclone hit, including 112 people with disabilities. We also provided them with 4,000 litres of water and 500 dry food kits. According to Bangladeshi authorities, almost 200,000 people had to flee their shelters before the arrival of the super cyclone

However, some refugees did not want to leave their makeshift shelters for fear of never returning home. Rajesh Chandra, Director of HI‘s programme in Bangladesh, explains how the worst was avoided: 

"Until the very last moment, our teams were delivering prevention messages, going door to door, explaining to people where to go to be safe while the cyclone and violent winds passed through, and how to protect their property. This effective preparation and coordination between the different actors undoubtedly helped us save many lives. We were prepared for a nightmare, but fortunately, Mocha changed course before hitting our coast. The wind speed dropped to less than 100km/h and the refugee camps were spared the worst.” 

It is now time to assess the needs. Since dawn, HI teams have been mobilised in the 26 camps in Cox's Bazar where we have a base, assessing the damage and the needs of our beneficiaries, whether in terms of psychosocial support or rehabilitation, or directing them towards services that can help them repair their shelters, prioritising children and adults with disabilities whose shelters have been damaged or destroyed. HI's response will  focus on the needs of each of the peple we support who have been directly affected by the cyclone. 

As things stand, in the 26 camps in which HI works: 

  • At least 21,000 people have been directly affected by Cyclone Mocha, although this figure may change in the coming hours; 
  • 3,900 shelters have been damaged by falling trees, especially their roofs;
  • 306 shelters have been totally destroyed; 
  • Thankfully, to date there are no reports of deaths or missing persons.

For Rajesh Chandra, Director of HI's programme in Bangladesh, the main worry now is people’s psychological and emotional state. 

"The Rohingya refugees have been facing growing insecurity in the camps and a reduction in their food aid. In addition to this, the recent massive fire and flooding have put great pressure on the most vulnerable among them, weakening them further. Providing protection and psychological support to these people is our priority.” 

Problems of access to basic needs for people with reduced mobility are also a concern for HI teams

Date published: 15/05/23


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