For Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, the Crisis Is Not Yet Over
C0x’s Bazar,Bangladesh: Ferdous Begum was cleaning her child after he had defecated in the open, using leaves she collected from a nearby tree at Bangladesh’s Teknaf Nature Park.
“We only have a couple of hand-dug shallow wells and we don’t get enough water from the wells for so many people living in the camp.” Other camps near Teknaf are also facing acute shortages of water, especially access to drinking and clean water, while aid workers face difficulties with hygiene management for the refugees crammed in squalid camps stretching from Teknaf to Ukhia in Cox’s Bazar.
The latest UN report shows an estimated 655,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, increasing the total Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar to 867,000 since August 25.
The report said new arrivals were living in spontaneous settlements with increasing demand for humanitarian assistance, including shelter, food, clean water and sanitation.
In one month, as of December 12, a total of 804 suspected diphtheria cases, including 15 deaths, were reported among the displaced Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar.
A number of aid workers working in the field said hygiene was very important to prevent disease outbreaks in these overcrowded camps.
Rohingyas in the Jadimora area said that they were trying to collect water from tube wells in local communities, but on many occasions they’d been barred.
“We can’t say we have reached all Rohingyas with safe drinking water and other facilities as they are living scattered,” Refugee Relief and Repatriation commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam of Cox’s Bazar told IPS.
“Access to clean water and safe sanitation services is a problem for the communities hosting refugees in Cox’s Bazar,” said Alessandro Petrone, WASH Programme Manager for IOM’s Rohingya Response, in a statement earlier this month.
New arrivals also have limited access to bathing facilities, especially women and urgently require WASH supplies including soap and buckets.