UNICEF warns of contaminated drinking water in camps for Rohingya refugees
21 November 2017 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with authorities in Bangladesh to urgently investigate high levels E.coli contamination in water drawn from wells inside the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Between 25 August and 11 November 2017, a total of 36,096 AWD cases were reported, –including 10 related deaths – 42 per cent, or 15,206, of which were children under age five.
“We are seeing an upward trend in infection rates.
“Contamination may be being caused through poor hygiene practices, such as the use of dirty containers [and] bad hygiene habits of the population in water handling,” the spokesperson said.
“We are stepping up measures to distribute water purification tablets to provide for water treatment at the household level as well as promoting good hygiene practices,” he said, noting that providing safe drinking water has been one of UNICEF’s highest priorities in responding to the Rohingya refugees’ needs.
Smaller settlements at risk of being overlooked Since 25 August, some 622,000 refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar have sought refuge in Cox’s Bazar – bringing the total number of refugees there to an estimated 834,000.
Although most are in the main settlements, 22,067 refugees live in Shamlapur, with 16 people sharing one latrine that are mostly full or dangerous; 22,130 in Leda, which has only one latrine per 47 people – well below the humanitarian ‘Sphere’ standard of one per 20 people; and 29,915 in Unchiprang, where there is also only one well per 57 people.
Many are contaminated with E.coli or are too shallow to provide enough clean water for the population through the dry season.
IOM emergency managers say that the three sites urgently need to be developed, including providing vital infrastructure – access roads, lighting and waste management.
“Most of the temporary pit latrines are full.