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First group of Rohingya refugees moves to new emergency shelters: UNHCR

DHAKA, Sept 19, 2017 (BSS) - UNHCR Spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan today said first group of Rohingya refugees started moving to new emergency shelters erected by the agency next to the Kutupalong camp near Cox's Bazar.

"A main focus of our work over the weekend and yesterday was at a new Extension Site next to the Kutupalong camp near Cox's Bazar where on Sunday and Monday we began moving people who have recently arrived into family tents and temporary communal shelters," she told a press briefing at the Geneva office, according to a media release of UNHCR.

Khan said the government has allocated some 2,000 acres [810 hectares] for the refugees. "UNHCR site planners estimate this will be sufficient to house 150,000 or more of the 415,000 refugees who have arrived since August 25," she said.

The UNHCR spokesperson said four communal tents were erected, sheltering some 400 people.

She said as of yesterday afternoon, refugee volunteers had erected 70 large family tents, each accommodating two or three families of up to 21 people.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been continuing to ramp up operations, she added.

This is in light of further arrivals of Rohingya refugees and our very grave concern at the still difficult conditions for the many thousands of people who have fled Myanmar's Rakhine State since August 25th.

"Refugees have told our staff that they suffered from cold and rain during their treks from Myanmar. Many had fallen ill, particularly small children," she said.

She said there is urgent need for more latrines, not least to reduce risks of a spread of disease with so many people living in close quarters. "Many also complained of hunger and said they had eaten little on their journeys, which took up to 10 days on foot," she added.

UNHCR and the authorities are working with partners to ensure that all newly arrived refugees including those moved to the emergency shelter have food.

With an estimated 415,000 refugees having arrived since late August the humanitarian challenges have become immense.

"We are seeing remarkable generosity by many individual Bangladeshis, with people trucking food and clothes to the refugees in the camps and others camping along the single main road," Khan said.

She added: "However, the Government needs more support. UNHCR will be issuing an appeal this week for the emergency humanitarian response in Bangladesh till the end of year."

Bangladesh authorities have already begun biometric registration of new arrivals, registering some 1,000 people a day just in Kutupalong.

"This is a vital protection activity for allowing all agencies to target assistance to the most vulnerable, with better knowledge of how many elderly, children, and other categories are in the camps," she said.

Bangladesh has been home to two official camps since 1991, Kutupalong and Nayapara. With the arrival of such vast numbers over the last weeks, UNHCR has agreed to a Government request to expand services to refugees outside these two camps.

"A third airlift carrying supplies like plastic sheets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and kitchen sets is scheduled to arrive in the capital, Dhaka, on Wednesday, to be distributed by our partners," Khan said.

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