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Urgent coordinated relief effort needed, says Muslim Aid returning from region
Muslim Aid staff who have just returned from Myanmar and Bangladesh are concerned that the situation will worsen in the coming months for those displaced in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and those who have fled from there into Bangladesh, unless urgent coordinated relief action is taken.
Over 400,000 people have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent weeks, Muslim Aid said at a press conference at their offices today. Muslim Aid urged the international community to do everything possible to bring an end to the violence and to ensure humanitarian access to the refugees in Bangladesh. Muslim Aid also urged the international community to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian access to the increased amounts of displaced people within the State of Rakhine itself.
“People are still streaming into Bangladesh every day. Most left their homes in such a hurry, they came with no money, little clothing. They have nothing and are trapped in makeshift camps on hill slopes, terrified for their families’ future, “says Madiha Raza, who has just returned from spending ten days working with the Muslim Aid team in Bangladesh to assess needs. “Conditions were squalid. People were squelching through a foot deep of mud, children were sick, babies had been borne on route crossing the border and women were pregnant. I saw children defecating in the open and this was spread on others’ feet. Water-borne diseases could break out at any moment. With the cold weather coming, it is urgent that the global community pull together to support the refugees and Bangladeshi locals and government dealing with this crisis.”
Madiha helped with relief distributions, giving out rice, salt, oil, lentils and potatoes to 500 families, 3,500 people. The second distribution, again to 500 families, included solar lamps and hygiene kits with soap and nail cutters.
At the press conference, the charity said that increased numbers of people are also displaced in the Rakhine State of Myanmar because of the violence and they urgently need food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Muslim Aid has also been carrying out distributions in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, around the district of Sittwe, delivering food and some sanitation items.
The charity said more needed to be done to give aid agencies access to refugees in Bangladesh and the displaced further north in the Rakine State so they can provide much needed humanitarian assistance.
Muslim Aid has launched the “Myanmar Emergency Appeal” to help raise funds for the crisis.
Jehangir Malik, Chief Executive of Muslim Aid said:
“Hundreds of thousands refugees and internally displaced peoples have no access to the essentials they need to survive. We call on governments and the international community to put pressure on the authorities to allow aid agencies better access. Those fleeing the violence must be able receive the urgent humanitarian assistance they need.
“The international community must act now to halt another of history’s colossal human tragedies. We call on world leaders to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches those in need and to ensure security for all civilians affected by this violence.”
In Myanmar Muslim Aid has been delivering essential services since 2012, focusing on primary education and healthcare, along with water, sanitation and livelihoods. As well as the immediate relief distribution, Muslim Aid is also planning for the longer-term development needs of the Myanmar refugees now living over the border in Bangladesh.
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Notes to Editor
Speaking on the panel today were staff who visited Myanmar last week:
Jehangir Malik, CEO
Zac Hussain, Director Business Development
And staff who have just returned from spending 10 days in Bangladesh
Madiha Raza, Senior Digital Communications Officer
Shoaib Hameed, Donations Manager