ADRA response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.
Written by: Catherine Boldeau, Development and Education Officer
John records Christ’s feeding of the 5,000, and includes these words: ‘. . . Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far
will they go among so many?” ’ (John 6:8, 9, NIV-UK.) The situation Since 25 August, 2017, over 500,000 Rohingya refugees have fled across the border from Rakhine State, Myanmar, to Cox’s Bazar in
Bangladesh, following the renewed conflict in the region. Numerous mainstream news reports have highlighted their plight with stories of drownings, the birth of babies in the middle of the conflict and the international community’s condemnation of the Myanmar government. But behind these headlines is a humanitarian crisis affecting local host communities in Bangladesh, a country struggling with its own high levels of poverty. Due to the unexpected influx of refugees the existing basic services are now strained and aid agencies are struggling to cope. The Rohingya refugees are highly vulnerable, living in makeshift and cramped conditions, exposed to the heavy monsoon rains and with little opportunity to gain an income or rebuild their lives. The needs The spontaneous settlements that have emerged from the crisis require proper planning to ensure basic shelter, safety and hygiene standards. The refugees need food security, emergency shelter, water and sanitation facilities, medical assistance and psychosocial support.
The response ADRA is working in partnership with the government of Bangladesh and the Inter-Sector Co-ordination Group (ISCG) along with 34 other international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in responding to this crisis. The ISCG have developed a six-month response plan and are encouraging a two-to-five-year transition programme that will assist in providing community empowerment and self-reliance to these people in diaspora.
ADRA’s immediate response will include:
• Providing life-saving basic assistance in settlements, camps and hosting communities.
• Improving conditions in, and management of, both existing and new settlements, including infrastructure and site planning.
• Promoting safety, dignity and respect for the individual rights of Rohingya refugees.
As part of the short-term strategy ADRA will provide complimentary household food packages, immediate shelter assistance through the provision of tarpaulins, bamboo and sisal rope, and non-food item such as water storage containers, basic kitchen utensils, blankets, mosquito nets and dignity kits.
Following the initial relief effort ADRA will engage, and partner, with other organisations to identify needs and gaps, as well as commence a co-ordinated programme to upgrade existing shelters and temporary facilities such as access roads, latrines and water points. Access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and personal hygiene facilities, specifically targeting women and children, are a priority for ADRA, as diarrhoea and cholera can spread very quickly due to poor sanitation and hygiene.
Over the next 12 months ADRA will continue working with the ISCG, anticipating a long-term co-ordination presence. This will include providing a two-year transition phase into protracted displacement, utilising skills in disaster risk reduction, providing women’s empowerment activities and exploring opportunities for psychosocial first aid to vulnerable groups.
So many news stories. But those behind the headlines are real people with enormous needs. Living in a Western society, we have our own challenges, but mass displacement on this scale is not something that the majority of us will ever experience. The Rohingya have left their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. They are now in a foreign country and are unlikely to return home soon (if ever). Effectively, they are at the mercy of those who are able to give them some assistance.
For the price of a soft drink or a bottle of water, you can assist the Rohingya. Why not, like the young lad in the story of the feeding of the five thousand, give the equivalent of a meal to ADRA to assist these refugees?