13 Sept, GENEVA – A major UN Refugee Agency airlift with emergency relief supplies for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was underway Tuesday, with the first flight landing in Dhaka.
The number of refugees fleeing Myanmar since Aug. 25 has increased to 370,000.
Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the UN migration agency, IMO, announced the updated influx number during a UN media briefing.
“The system is at full stretch,” he said.
UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said the increase in the estimated total of those counted fleeing to Bangladesh is a result of more assessment teams being able to reach more villages, hamlets, and pockets where refugees have gathered.
He said one of the refugee agency’s chartered flights flew in Tuesday with 91 metric tonnes of aid, including much-needed shelter materials, jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats and other essential items from Dubai.
A second aid flight, donated to UNHCR by United Arab Emirates (UAE), was scheduled to land later in the day bringing in some 1,700 family tents.
“The two emergency flights are meant to meet the immediate aid needs of some 25,000 refugees. Further flights are being planned, ultimately delivering emergency aid for some 120,000 refugees in total,” said Edwards.
Rohingya refugees continue to arrive at Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, where UNHCR operates.
With more than 70,000 refugees now in both camps, the population has more than doubled since Aug. 25.
“Both sites are beyond saturation point. Some refugees who have been living in these camps are hosting up to 15 newly-arrived families in their small huts, yet new arrivals are still spilling onto the walkways under plastic sheets,” said Edwards.
Many of the new refugees are staying in makeshift settlements or among local Bangladeshi host communities.
The UN refugee agency said, however, that such spontaneous sites required proper planning to ensure basic shelter, safety and hygiene standards.