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Rohingya Muslims will soon face cyclones, monsoons in Bangladesh



Refugees driven out of Myanmar by what the U.S. has called “ethnic cleansing” now face a new threat: the looming monsoon and cyclone season.

Authorities have warned that more than 100,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled into neighboring Bangladesh are at risk of losing their makeshift homes to the deadly floods and landslides that accompany seasonal rains.

Workers are scrambling to reinforce shelters and dig drainage systems before the bad weather is expected next month.

“On the hill where my house is built there are 960 houses and this hill will possibly collapse in the coming monsoon season,” said refugee and community leader Sabbir Ahmed, responding to questions asked by NBC News with the help of a translator supplied by the International Organization for Migration, the U.N.’s migration agency.

Ahmed is one of the nearly 700,000 refugees — roughly the same number of people who live in Denver or Seattle — who have streamed out of Myanmar since violence erupted in August.

On Wednesday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that he strongly suspected “acts of genocide” may have taken place against the ethnic minority in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state since then. He also suggested reports of bulldozing of mass graves in Myanmar showed a “deliberate attempt by the authorities to destroy evidence of potential international crimes, including possible crimes against humanity.”

Ahmed left Myanmar in August with his wife, seven children, parents and three siblings and walked for two days through the rain to reach the border with Bangladesh. Along the way, Ahmed’s wife gave birth to a girl. He now lives in Unchiprang, which is home to more than 20,000 refugees.

Image: A Rohingya refugee girl

A Rohingya refugee collects water from a shallow well dug in the sand at the Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.