The UN refugee agency has warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Myanmar as the country’s displaced Rohingya Muslims face the threat of monsoon floods.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) on Friday said it is “seriously concerned about the risks facing over 60,000 displaced people in flood - prone areas and in makeshift shelters. ” " From May to September, the monsoon season is expected to unleash heavy rains and possible cyclones in Rakhine state, where more than 115,000 people remain uprooted after last year ' s inter - communal violence, " UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters. The official was referring to the deadly attacks by extremist Buddhists in 2012 against the western state of Rakhine’s community of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world. Edwards also expressed concern that operations to provide shelter and food for the displaced are desperately underfunded, noting that donors have provided just 14 percent of the USD 1.4 million the UN agency needs for its Myanmar operation.
" Flooding will exacerbate the already fragile conditions of shelter and sanitation, and increase the risk of water - borne diseases. In addition, several thousand people are still living in tents and flimsy makeshift shelters made of tarpaulin, rice bags, and grass that cannot withstand even moderate rains, " he warned.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar account for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. They have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country's independence in 1948. Myanmar’s government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims.