Last 27 August, over 507.000 people, crossed the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, fleeing from the violence exploded in the northern area of the state of Rakhine. The majority of refugees are women and children, as of now, they are living in improvised makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar, under extreme difficulties. This is one of the major and most complex crises in the region in decades: food, water, medical assistance, hygiene, and providing shelter are the priority. This is why I am here in Bangladesh, to touch firsthand the situation and provide the best possible support.
The Red Crescent in Bangladesh
I have seen how the Bangladesh Red Crescent provided a quick response, distributing emergency kit, medical support and facilitating family reunification operations. Every day they work hard at Cox’s Bazar. The national teams are on premises to answer to this catastrophic event with groups providing the necessary health care. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent is providing maximum support to the volunteers involved in these delicate operations. In the long run, the Bangladesh Government is planning to build 14.000 emergency refugee camps (each capable to host six families) in a 2000 hectares field in the Kutupalong /Balukhali area.
The situation is dramatic. This is why, tomorrow and the day after, I decided to visit Cox’s Bazar. The people fleeing the state of Rakhine are living in an overcrowding reality, with no access to clean water or access to sufficiently hygienic facilities since last month now. This is generating a risk of the spread of serious diseases such as cholera caused by the water.
Urgent humanitarian aid
The International Federation has provided emergency supply for over 100.000 people, but thousands of families remain without food, water, a dry shelter to sleep and health care. The epidemic risk is extremely high and the vaccination campaign against cholera is a priority to ensure peoples protection, but it is not all. Three mobile clinic units already aided and cured approximately 4.000 people, taking care of a range of cases, bullet wounds, burns, diarrhea, fever, respiratory problems, malnutrition, and dehydration. An isolation facility unit for 40 people will be set up in the next few days in a Red Cross hospital camp. The half a million people that already flee from violence and lost everything, now deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Photo Credit: Matteo Micucci/Italian Red Cross