More than two years after their massive migration, more than 900 000 Rohingya are still living in refugee camps in Bangladesh where living conditions are particularly demanding. Stateless and without prospects for a return, they solely rely on humanitarian aid given to them.
Several intra-community surges of violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar have led to massive population migrations. Between the end of 2016 and October 2017, 740 000 Rohingya of Muslim origin fled towards the neighboring Bangladesh. These people were a testimony to the murders, tortures and even rapes their community suffered. Hundreds of thousands other refugees had fled previously to Bangladesh during the previous years.
Two years later, more than 900 000 Rohingya people are still living in refugee camps or host villages in Bangladesh where their living conditions are extremely poor. The infrastructures are unhealthy and are not sufficient to meet the basic needs. The access to drinkable water, sanitation and hygiene as well as health and education is limited. Under the combined effect of over population and poverty, violence and insecurity issues increased around the camps, striking particularly the most vulnerable populations.
The situation is even more alarming since the neighboring host populations are also vulnerable. Hit by repeated floodings, Bangladesh is violently facing the consequences of climate change. The erosion and hyper-salinity of soils makes farming difficult and threatens the livelihoods of the populations. Food insecurity and malnutrition are on the increase. These nutritional issues are worsened by the poor bacteriological quality of the water, as well as the presence of arsenic in the main water sources of the country. Outbreaks of communicable diseases are a major concern, specifically during monsoon.
In November 2018 and August 2019, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar announced two successive plans in order to “repatriate” the Rohingya to Myanmar, but most of them refuse to return until their safety and rights are guaranteed. As a matter of fact, the Burmese Constitution no longer recognizes the Rohingya as one of the country’s ethnic group since 1982.
The teams of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL have been present for almost ten years in the Teknaf area, located in the south Cox’s Bazar district, providing access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation to the most vulnerable population of refugees and host communities through the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of infrastructures (wells, latrines…), the distribution of hygiene kits and the organisation of hygiene awareness and waste management campaigns.
In order to fight against food insecurity and strengthen the livelihoods of the population, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is also implementing agricultural, income generating and cash-for-work activities, as well as disaster risk reduction projects in order to raise awareness, educate and prepare both communities to face the high risks of natural disasters in the region.
Translated by Allan Tourelles
Picture: Prince-Naymuzzaman-Khan / SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL