Bangladesh army takes bigger role in refugee aid operation


Rohingya children stand indide their makeshift tent without light at the top of the Balukhali camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh, 15 September 2017. Photo: Abir Abdullah/EPA

Bangladesh's army was Wednesday ordered to take a bigger role in helping hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled ethnic violence in Myanmar, by distributing relief aid and building shelters.

Troops would be deployed immediately in Cox's Bazar near the border where more than 420,000 Rohingya have arrived since August 25, said road transport minister Obaidul Quader, who is also deputy head of the ruling Awami League party.

Soldiers would mainly distribute relief and carry out rehabilitation, as well as ensuring order, Quader told AFP.

"The army presence is especially needed on the spot to construct their shelters, which is a very tough task, and ensure sanitation," he said.

The latest order came from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Quader said. 

Previously troops had been tasked with transporting foreign relief supplies from Chittagong airport to Cox's Bazar.

The minister said heavy rain for the past 24 hours was intensifying the misery of the Rohingya, tens of thousands of whom have set up shelters on hills around Cox's Bazar despite the risk of landslides.

Authorities have so far set up 12 relief centres and eight emergency kitchens for the Rohingya refugees.

© AFP

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