Friday, October 6, 2017

Procession of lost

Jannatul Hafsa
Jannatul Hafsa: Since August 25, 2017 when violence escalated in Myanmar's Rakhine State, more than 500,000 people including children and adults from the ethnic Rohingya minority of Myanmar crossed over to Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban district in Bangladesh fearing for their lives. Many of those crossing into Bangladesh arrive exhausted, sick and hungry after enduring days on the move. Among them many are pregnant and lactating women, and children under five. More than 70% of the refugees are without adequate shelter, food, sanitation facilities and half have no safe drinking water. This is a large scale and escalating humanitarian crisis. They are living in terrible conditions and need life-saving assistance now. According to UNHCR, they join the more than 400,000 others already living there in cramped makeshift camps since the early 1990s. Existing camps and the ones newly being set up are inadequate to deal with the massive influx, resulting in many seeking shelter under open skies, by the roadside and in forest & hill areas with little or no protection.

Due to the inadequate drinking water and sanitation facilities, there's a high probability for the spread of waterborne diseases. They need food security assistance. Recent rains have caused flooding in some of the makeshift settlements, and delivery of relief aid has slowed down. Some of the spontaneous settlements along slopes and roadsides are at risk of mudslides. They need humanitarian support immediately and Bangladeshi people, Government of Bangladesh, different NGOs, private sector and international organizations are providing support to them.

Observing the situation with our own eyes we feel that we need to do something for them and stand beside them. Expressing this to the management of the YES Center Cox’s Bazar they gave us an opportunity to get involved with the humanitarian support for Rohingya. 15 students of the YES Center including 5 from the youth bloggers group worked as volunteer in three camps in Cox’s Bazar like Kutupalong camp in Ukhia, Leda camp and Shaplapur camp in Teknaf. We collected information of Rohingya at Moynartek under Kutupalong camp. At first, we visited different hills and camps where the Rohingya took shelter and prepared a list of 11,500 refugees for providing relief support; we also distributed 25 kg rice to each person on behalf of YPSA and with the support of the World Food Organization. The ICT training students of the YES Center Cox’s Bazar worked to develop a database for Rohingya for relief aid.

During working at different camps, what I saw there from the 1st to 5th day cannot be described in words. They are living a dreadful life. Many of them were from solvent family, but now they do not have anything to survive. Many of them lost their family members and relatives. The refugees told stories of gang rape, mass killings and brutal beatings and sexual violence. The life story of children who lost everyone is different. They fled to Bangladesh with unknown people, their parents and siblings having been killed in front of them. They are moving around alone in Cox’s Bazar. I could not hold my tears hearing their story…

People of all walks of life in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Government, different NGOs, private sector and international organizations are providing support to the refugees, but this is by far not sufficient considering the huge number of Rohingya, who came from Myanmar. They need safe drinking water, toilet facilities, shelter, treatment, food, cloth... But the love and the support of common people of Bangladesh have no boundaries. And all of us of the YES Center Cox’s Bazar, we are really proud to be a member of the humanitarian support program for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar!

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