It is now 1 year on from the start of the Rohingya crisis. On 25 August 2017 hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women and children started to flood across the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh fleeing violence. Jehangir Malik (OBE) Chief Executive Officer of Muslim Aid, recently visited Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 Rohingya people have taken refuge in camps there.
“I remember the scenes from Cox’s Bazar a year ago, as the Rohingya people starting flooding across the border from Myanmar, injured, traumatised and desperate for food, shelter and comfort. Muslim Aid staff on the ground told us that it was very chaotic; the Rohingya were so hungry they were rushing and fighting to grab food, the streets were filled with contaminated water and they saw many people with gunshot wounds and orphans walking the streets alone. Our team heard the horrific first-hand accounts of the men, women and children who had travelled for days to seek refuge after escaping violence.
“One year on the camps have taken shape and look more organised. It is inspiring that the Bangladesh government has provided a refuge for almost a million Rohingya. As an international community we must support them to cope with this burden. “
Muslim Aid has been providing support through its partner GUSS including:
* Shelter kits to benefit 2,500 people
* Clean water sources and solar lights to benefit 2,250 people
* Hygiene kits to benefit 10,000 people and hygiene awareness sessions
* Eid gifts and clothing for children
* Ramadan food packs for 1,000 families, clothes and slippers for 2,300 boys and girls.
Jehangir continued: “Shelter, food rations, water pumps and solar lighting provided by many international charities, including Muslim Aid (through its local partner GUSS), are all very visible signs of progress. There is a sense of calm and community. I saw small scale pop up traders from barbers to fruit sellers and vegetable gardens, these are all signs of hope. The Rohingya people are not just sitting back waiting for aid, they are trying to improve life for themselves. However, I’m concerned for the 60-80% of women and children who make up the camps and their need for protection from exploitation and trafficking, as they fail to have any source of income.
“But I’m also deeply concerned about the uncertain future for the Rohingya people. Will they stay or will they return? Rohingya people have been living under very difficult conditions for decades, they have been internally displaced, become refugees, used as a political football and at times experienced violence and horrific conditions. The International community must seek diplomatic means to bring a political solution to this humanitarian crises.
“The repatriation agreement signed by both governments states the refugees will return, but currently there are no visible signs of the implementation of that policy. It is vital that if they return they must be able to live in safety and in dignity. In absence of a political solution and if the situation remains in limbo and if donor money runs out, what impact will this have on the Rohingya people who very much rely on assistance. How will the families survive?”
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