Exodus of the Rohingya People
The discrimination against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State, a poor region in western Burma, has reached epic proportions. Stateless, rejected and stigmatized, the Rohingyas have no access to public services and are deprived of even the most basic freedoms. They have been the target of many abuses over the decades, the UN today calling it ethnic cleansing. The crisis has forced more than 650,000 people, more than 80% of which are women and children, to flee across the Bangladesh border.
In the district of Cox’s Bazar, in the extreme south of Bangladesh, the Rohingya population, which has reached almost one million people, is piling up in makeshift camps. Exhausted by the trek, deeply traumatized and destitute, these refugees still have to face extremely precarious living conditions, like lack of shelter, sanitary infrastructure, food, water and care, along with promiscuity and the risk of contracting contagious diseases.
Deplorable Living Conditions
The sanitary conditions in Cox’s Bazar, where each camp blends into the next, are extremely critical, and are deteriorating with each new refugee. By the end of the year, 60,000 births are expected. The lack of drinking water and the accumulating waste raise fears of the spread of epidemics, as even the most basic services, such as health care, psychological care or vaccination, are still very difficult to obtain.
The situation is all the more alarming as the rainy/monsoon season approaches, raising the risk of cyclones and floods, and making this population even more vulnerable. Our priorities are now to treat the epidemic of diphtheria, and address the physical and psychological trauma caused by violence, including gender-based violence.