IFRC launches emergency appeal for Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh

March 21, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

AP photo

 

By

Sheuli Akter

Thousands of people who have sought refuge in south eastern Bangladesh, having fled violence in the northern area of Rakhine State in neighbouring Myanmar are now living in unplanned and overcrowded settlements where living conditions are extremely poor.

Against this backdrop, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal in support of efforts by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of the Muslim people.

IFRC in a statement said that since October 2016, approximately 74,550 people have arrived in Bangladesh. IFRC’s 3.2 million Swiss Franc (Euros 3 million, USD 3.2 million) appeal will ensure that 25,000 of the new arrivals will receive food aid and other emergency relief items, including shelter materials, together with clean water, sanitation and health care over a nine month period, it added.

“People are existing in very difficult circumstances. Most don’t have access to regular medical services and they are not getting enough food or sufficient nutrition,” explained Azmat Ulla, IFRC Head of Office in Bangladesh.

“Shelter is also a big issue. Many are living in sub-standard temporary structures. We need to scale up our support, particularly as there will be additional challenges ahead with the onset of the flood and cyclone season.”

Under the appeal, according to the statement, BDRCS volunteers will also be trained to deliver psychosocial support to families suffering emotional distress. Wells will be installed or repaired to improve clean water supply, it said.

Since January 2017, emergency funds mobilized by IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have ensured that the BDRCS has been able to distribute food, blankets, water containers and other relief items to newly arrived families, it added.

With ICRC support, mobile health clinics have also been in operation and Restoring Family Links services have helped people to re-establish contact with their loved ones, said the statement and added the ICRC is planning to scale up its emergency response in Cox’s Bazar by providing food and non-food relief through BDRCS for the new arrivals living in host communities.

Over the past three decades 300,000 to 500,000 Muslims from Rakhine have crossed into Bangladesh, IFRC said. Close to 33,000 registered refugees are living in two official camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar, it said and added that most migrants however have been living in makeshift camps or in host communities which have limited infrastructure and public services.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent is one of the countries’ leading humanitarian organizations. It has a strong presence in Cox’s Bazar, and is working closely with all stakeholders involved in the humanitarian response, including the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheuli Akter

Sheuli Akter, from Bangladesh, is a Special Correspondent and Editor of NsNewsWire, (Bangladesh’s First Press Newswire). Previously she had worked for Bangladesh’ top news agency, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) and top newspaper (now defunct) The Bangladesh Observer. She also gained an honourable mention in the first ever World Media Summit WMS Awards for ‘Exemplary News Professionals in Developing Countries’, receiving the award in Beijing in January 2015.

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