Ready before storm: Six-year-old Ariz survived cyclone Hamoon
As cyclone Hamoon made landfall in the Rohingya refugee camps, Ariz and his family quickly moved to a UNICEF-supported learning centre to find safety and protection.
Cyclone Hamoon swept through the coastal belt of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, affecting both Rohingya refugee and host communities in its path.
Ariz, a six-year-old Rohingya refugee living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, was playing outside his family’s makeshift shelter when the storm began. The wind was blowing much stronger than he was used to, which amused him.
“The wind was fun!”, Ariz shared, “I felt like I could fly!”
His parents, however, knew the storm was coming and knew the danger that came with it. Cyclone preparedness and awareness exercises were conducted regularly by UNICEF and partners in the camps, in anticipation of emergencies such as Hamoon Cyclone.
Upon feeling the stronger wind speed, Ariz’s mother, Nur, quickly brought him back inside where it would be safer for him. As the storm escalated, Ariz began to feel afraid. The walls of his home were shaking. He hid in his mother’s lap, along with his younger brother and cousin.
Meanwhile, Ariz’s father, Mohammad, was doing his best to reinforce their roof with more rope guards, so it would not fly off in the storm. Despite his efforts, their roof was partially blown away. Rainwater began flooding into their home, at which point the family knew they had to find shelter elsewhere — and they knew exactly where to go.
Ready before disaster
Within minutes, they had arrived at the nearest UNICEF-supported learning centre, where Ariz was a learner in first grade. The learning centre staff opened their doors, helped them prepare the space for shelter and the family remained there for the rest of the night.
“Our field office and assets in Cox’s Bazar were damaged in the storm,” shared Ezatullah Majeed, UNICEF Chief of Cox’s Bazar Field Office. “But fortunately, the children and families living in the Rohingya refugee camps were not significantly affected.”
To prepare for the cyclone, UNICEF had prepositioned critical supplies and was ready to deliver all available resources to support the refugees. The emergency teams were on standby, ready to help should they be needed.
UNICEF staff were on alert and in close contact with the teams on the ground to ensure immediate support to children.
Ahead of the cyclone, 3,000 refugee volunteers had been equipped with resources and trained as first responders in the camps. UNICEF and partners, including other United Nations agencies, provided these rapid refresher trainings.
Returning to his learning centre
Rohingya refugee children like Ariz and their families rely entirely on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health, nutrition, education and protection. Not just in this cyclone emergency, but for as long as they cannot return to their homes.
Ariz’s family is now getting the support they need from camp authorities to repair their shelter, while Ariz is excited to return to his learning centre the next day, this time again, as a learner.