Destruction following Cyclone Mocha. Credit: Kaisar Alam.

Cyclone Mocha: Rohingya refugees face preventable destruction

Published 15. May 2023
Statement by Wendy McCance, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) country director in Bangladesh on Cyclone Mocha’s impact in Cox’s Bazar. 

“We are deeply concerned about the destruction caused by Cyclone Mocha in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which could have been prevented by greater investment in homes that withstand harsh weather. Thankfully, the world’s biggest refugee camp was spared from total disaster as the cyclone did not directly hit the area, home to 1 million Rohingya refugees. However, we were alarmingly close to a catastrophe for both the refugee and Bangladeshi communities living in vulnerable makeshift bamboo and tarpaulin shelters that could have been totally destroyed in case of a direct hit by the cyclone. 

“Despite the near-miss, the camp still faced harsh weather, impacting over 21,000 people. Many refugee families lost their homes due to the high winds, torrential downpours, and landslides, spotlighting the camp’s inadequate infrastructure and disaster planning capacities. 

“The Rohingya refugees and the host communities face significant vulnerabilities in terms of low income, limited development opportunities, and often encounter harsh weather. Enabling refugees and host communities to construct resilient homes capable of withstanding climate-related shocks’ escalating frequency and severity should be an urgent first step, but much more is needed. 

“Once again, we are witnessing the most vulnerable refugees being pushed to their limits, grappling with fires, floods, and now a cyclone. They are enduring neglect from the international community, including further reductions in already minimal food rations. While we cannot prevent cyclones from occurring, we possess the power to mitigate their impact. Let us treat everyone equally, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to compassion and justice. Urgent action is needed, and our collective response will reflect our shared humanity and determination.” 

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