Concern responds to worsening Rohingya crisis

Photo by: Concern partner YPSA
Concern Worldwide has launched an immediate response as hundreds of thousands stream into Bangladesh seeking safety

Up to 400,000 Rohingya have crossed the border of Myanmar into Bangladesh since August 25, fleeing ethnic violence in Rakhine State in the country’s southwest. That’s more than a third of the country’s Rohingya population of roughly 1.1 million people.

CAMPS AT CAPACITY

Refugee camps in the area of Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh are at capacity as thousands of new arrivals make their way into the country seeking safety. Many are seriously injured, and urgently need water, food, shelter, and medical care. Concern plans to work with local partners in Bangladesh to assist 40,000 people in need.

“Concern will mobilize resources to support shelter, water, sanitation, and nutritional assistance to the Rohingya population,” said Concern’s Bangladesh Country Director A.K.M Musha.

The humanitarian need in the Cox’s Bazar area is huge and there are not enough resources to cope with the ever-increasing numbers,” Musha explained. “Many have taken refuge in makeshift camps, host communities, and anywhere they can get shelter. People are arriving with injuries, many with bullet wounds in their arms.”

WHO ARE THE ROHINGYA?

Often described as the “world’s most persecuted minority,” the Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, mostly concentrated in Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest states. The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations, many migrating from Bangladesh during British rule. After gaining independence, Myanmar, a majority Buddhist nation, refused to acknowledge the Rohingya as citizens, rendering them a stateless people.

Without recognition as citizens or permanent residents of the country, the Rohingya have limited access to education, jobs, and health services, resulting in chronic poverty and marginalization. Violence targeting Rohingya over the last several decades has driven hundreds of thousands to neighboring countries.

GROWING NEEDS

Bangladesh is currently assisting thousands of people affected by last month’s monsoon floods which impacted eight million people and left many vulnerable families homeless.

With resources stretched thin, Concern’s A.K.M. Musha says support is desperately needed.

“The Bangladesh government, local communities and local NGO partners, international NGOs and the UN are supporting as best they can,” he said. “But they are also coping with the humanitarian problems following last month’s rains, floods, and mudslides, so the situation will get worse if they don’t receive adequate support.”

Brid Kennedy, Concern’s Regional Director for the Middle East and Asia, echoed the sentiment. “The Bangladesh government cannot deal with the huge influx of refugees — many of whom are in a desperate situation,” she explained. “The government requires increased support from the international community to help with the response.”