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Rohingya: organise the response, relieve suffering

Published on Friday 26 January 2018

Almost 6 months after the first arrivals, some 700,000 Rohingya have now sought refuge in Bangladesh. After the emergency, the time has come to consolidate this aid, which must not leave anyone behind.

They arrived in hundreds, thousands and then hundreds of thousands. Over the past 7 months, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have left their villages and homes in Burma to try to find some peace in Bangladesh. They have settled in official camps, informal settlements or villages willing to welcome them in return for rent, most of which they can’t afford.

 

For almost six months now, these torn families have been surviving as they can, thanks to the help they receive, firstly from the Bangladeshi people, who have shown great generosity. As this local aid is not sufficient to meet the needs of a population representing that of the city of Athens, international organisations have taken over.

 

As a major actor helping the Rohingya and the people who welcome them in the informal camps and host villages, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL teams work tirelessly 7 days a week, sometimes up to 12 hours a day to try to find solutions that will relieve the suffering of these needy people.

Drilling, pumping, chlorinating: the urgency of access to water

Among the activities implemented by SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL teams: access to drinking water. In this region of Bangladesh, both seasons are extreme. Very wet with heavy rains or very hot and dry. Facing these climate changes, there are only few alternatives to find and supply drinking water. One of the most effective is deep drilling.

Elsewhere, as in the host village of Dondomia, natural reservoirs dug by the population help to preserve monsoon rainfall. However, even if this water seems healthy, it is not safe to drink it without treatment. It was therefore necessary to install a pumping, storage, chlorination and distribution system, in order to guarantee sufficient access and quality for safe consumption.

 

Providing personal assistance

Always as close as possible to the populations they support, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL teams also organise distributions of basic necessities. Mattresses, blankets, kitchen tools, buckets, jars, hygiene kits… so many essential materials to try to rebuild a semblance of a home, under tents made of bamboo and plastic tarpaulins, despite the difficult living conditions.

Protecting health through clean toilets

Eat, drink, take shelter… Such are Man’s most basic needs; however, there are only few things when an access to health infrastructure is not assured. Without clean toilets and faecal matter storage, the risk of spreading disease increases tenfold.

Despite all the efforts undertaken, misery remains glaring. Precarious shelters, illnesses, trauma, dirt, lack of access to sanitation facilities… However, there are still a few glimpses of hope in the eyes of children like Bithi, who, thanks to international aid, can now go to school and perhaps one day realise her dream: “to become a doctor in order to be able to treat people“.

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© Photo : Tugdual de Dieuleveult / SOLIDARITES INTERNATIONAL

  • 156.6 million inhabitants
  • 31,5% poverty rate
  • 142nd out of 188 on the Human Development Index
  • 491,818 people helped