Bangladesh is bracing for a massive humanitarian crisis because of a lack of food, sanitation, medicines and even basic housing following the exodus of as many as 350,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, fleeing violence in which at least 1,000 were killed in just two weeks.
The roadside and areas along the major highway from Ukhiya to Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, just across the river from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, are swollen with new refugees who have set up makeshift camps with bamboos and polythene sheets to brave monsoon rains, reported ucanews.com. Many are women, children and old people who face an uncertain future without citizenship of any nation or even bare essentials.
Some aid groups and generous local people have sporadically provided relief materials to refugees on the Bangladesh side of the border; in Myanmar, aid has been stopped by the government. Aid trucks arriving at the makeshift camps quickly ran out of food as thousands of hungry people enveloped them when they stopped, ucanews.com reported.
In Chittagong, Bangladesh, James Gomes, regional director of Caritas, the Church’s charitable agency, expressed concern over the Rohingya crisis.
“The situation is so pathetic – people living under an open sky, without food, clothes and medicines, getting wet in the rain,” Gomes told ucanews.com in mid-September. He predicted an epidemic due to unhealthy conditions if people did not get help soon.
Picture: Exhausted Rohingya refugees rest on the shore in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, after crossing by boat through the Bay of Bengal on 10th September. (CNS photo/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters).