Humanitarian crisis deepens

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Publication date : 16 September 2017

Humanitarian crisis deepens

A group of seven people from Chittagong’s Hathazari distributes relief among Rohingya refugees at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar yesterday. Independent photo

Media: The Independent

Original URL: Humanitarian crisis deepens

E-paper URL: Humanitarian crisis deepens


Owing to the shortage of food, water, and shelter for the Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the humanitarian crisis is deepening at the bordering districts of Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban every day. There are hungry faces everywhere. Theacute crisis of sanitation facilities is making things even worse. Yet, the number of people crossing the border keeps increasing by the day. Thousands of Rohingyas are entering the country every day through the several border points. Many are dying in the arduous boat journey to Bangladesh. Despite three intergovernmental organisations and the local Red Crescent working to meet the demand of Rohingyas, the relief is apparently reaching very few refugees. Moreover, the relief coming from private sources is not reaching the Rohingyas who have taken shelter in the camps.

Those who are bringing relief from private sources are distributing it among the refugees who are waiting on the road. If people are arriving with relief, several hundred Rohingyas are surrounding the vehicles. Many were seen returning empty-handed.

Those who have taken shelter at Thangkhali, to the south of Balukhali of Ukhiya, in the area designated by the government, complained that they are not getting any relief at all.

Abdur Rouf of Maungdaw is one of those who have arrived recently. He has been going around with a list of 135 Rohingyas for two days, but is yet to get any relief. “We are leading a sub-human life due to lack of food, water, and sanitation facilities. We have taken shelter in the hills of Thangkhali. No aid worker has visited us for a week,” complained Rouf.

Like Rouf, many of those who have arrived recently in the different areas of Teknaf and Ukhiya alleged that they have not got any relief or seen any aid worker. The Cox’s Bazar district administration is also aware about it.

“I stood for an hour in the queue for relief. But when I reached the truck, they said everything has been distributed. We have had nothing to eat since morning. I could not even give anything to my two little sons,” cried Hasina Khatun, who has fled from Maungdaw in Teknaf.

In such circumstances, the government is thinking about involving some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to tackle the situation.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (or the UN Refugee Agency), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been working for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh for a long time. The International Red Crescent is also working with them.

Some national and international NGOs want to work for the Rohingyas but cannot, as they have no persimmon. Oxfam, for instance, has offered USD 33million in relief for the Rohingyas.

“We have been saying for a long time that it will not be possible to meet the demands of so many refugees by so few NGOs. Now, the Rohingyas are suffering; they are not getting any food. Some local people are trying to give them some relief. But, how many days will that last? If more NGOs do not get permission, it will not be possible to meet their basic demands,” said Reazual Karim, the CEO of COAST Trust, an NGO.

“We are thinking about involving some more NGOs to work for the Rohingyas,” said Khaled Mahmud, the additional district magistrate of Cox’s Bazar.

“We have decided that NGOs that are not involved in any anti-government and anti-state activities will be given priority,” he added.

“We are trying to properly distribute the relief which is coming through private efforts. Moreover, organisations like the UNHCR, WFP, and IOM are facing some problems in starting work quickly. They are not being able to respond immediately to the crises,” he explained.

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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