Nowhere to Run: Rohingya Hunker Down as Monsoon Arrives

In this June 28, 2018, photo, Mustawkima, sits in her relative's shelter as she talks about abandoning her previous shelters destroyed by heavy rains in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh. Photo: Wong Maye-E / Associated Press
In this June 28, 2018, photo, Mustawkima, sits in her relative's shelter as she talks about abandoning her previous shelters destroyed by heavy rains in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh. Photo: Wong Maye-E / Associated Press

UKHIYA, Bangladesh — A violent military campaign sent scores of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims running for their lives. Now the monsoon season is bringing fresh dangers to the 900,000 Rohingya who had hoped to find safety in Bangladesh’s refugee camps.

Landslides, flooding and waterborne illnesses can happen with life-threatening swiftness.

The Rohingya are living on hills that were once covered in forest. But the trees were cut down to make room for shelters. That process has dramatically loosened the soil. The rains quickly transform the unstable soil into heavy mud. And that heavy mud can lead to landslides.

For months, officials raced to relocate the most at-risk families to safer areas. But there simply isn’t enough available land. And most refugees believe it is too dangerous to return to Myanmar.

Story: Kristen Gelineau