Shelter From the Storm


Alex Tom, PSP Officer, UNHCR Canada

Every year, Bangladesh faces months of heavy, often devastating monsoon rains. Dealing with this seasonal deluge is always difficult, but this year the challenge is compounded. Bangladesh is currently home to the world’s largest refugee camp. Since August 25, 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees – mostly women and children – have been forced to flee the destruction of their homes and villages in Myanmar. They joined 200,000 Rohingya already living in Bangladesh and ever since UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency has been working hard to shelter people under extremely difficult conditions.

As soon as the crisis broke out, UNHCR quickly set up tents to house people and protect them from the elements; however tents are vulnerable to torrential rain, flooding and landslides. Khadija Khatum escaped Myanmar with her 60 year old mother and two children after armed forced burned their village of Majipara. The family set up makeshift shelter in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, however they were displaced a second time when their makeshift home was swept away in a torrent of water and mud. Fortunately, UNHCR was there to help.

Aid workers relocated Khadija and her family to a well-constructed shelter in a safe, flat area on higher ground and replaced the household necessities they had lost, including sleeping mats, buckets and kitchen tools. UNHCR worked hard before and during the monsoon season to move families to sturdy and safe shelters, fix bridges and roads to ensure supply routes were not interrupted for aid to be delivered, and improved plumbing and drainage in the camp to reduce water borne diseases like cholera.

In the aftermath of this year’s monsoon rains, Rohingya refugees still face difficult and daunting conditions — but there is also hope. Families separated during the chaos of flight have reunited. At newly constructed community centres, children are receiving an education, some for the first time in their lives.

This work would is not possible without the generosity of individuals in Canada and around the world who responded quickly to the crisis by donating, helping UNHCR reach families in urgent distress. We invite you to make a life-saving donation today—to change the life of a refugee family caught in conflict and exposed to the elements.

To donate, please click here. You can also call our toll free line on 1-877-232-0909 and make a gift over the phone.