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The World’s Largest Refugee Camp: Life in Cox’s Bazar

SEATTLE, Washington — In August 2017, the world watched in horror because the Myanmar navy unleashed a brutal marketing campaign within the nation’s Rakhine state. Focusing on the Rohingya individuals, a Muslim ethnic minority, the assaults killed an unknown variety of males, ladies and kids. Studies of widespread sexual violence, torture and scorched earth techniques drew worldwide condemnation in what the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) known as a “’textbook instance’ of ethnic cleaning.” Nearly all of Rohingya refugees are at present dwelling in Cox’s Bazar, a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Though these refugees are actually protected from the violence in Myanmar, life in Cox’s Bazar is much from straightforward.

The assaults triggered a mass exodus, unparalleled for the reason that 1994 disaster in Rwanda. In 2017 alone, nearly 700,000 individuals fled to neighboring Bangladesh. 1000’s of Rohingya households sought shelter in dangerously overcrowded refugee camps whereas native governments labored desperately with the U.N. and different humanitarian help organizations to discover a answer. Now, practically a 12 months and a half later, the world has but to seek out a solution.

Life in Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh, a small coastal metropolis solely 25 miles from the Myanmar border. Roughly a million individuals reside in bamboo and tarp shelters within the Kutupalong and Nayapara encampments, the worlds largest refugee camp. These camps have housed Rohingya refugees for the reason that early 90s, offering aid for one of many worlds most persecuted minorities. Nevertheless, the latest assaults have severely strained the camp’s sources and workers.

Whereas the camps present the Rohingya security from the atrocities in Rahkine, life in Cox’s Bazar is bleak by practically each commonplace. In response to the UNHCR, shelters are severely overcrowded, with many constructed on muddy hillsides. Monsoon season wreaked havoc on the camps as practically 50,000 households have been affected and dozens injured. The chronically overcrowded camps pose a public well being nightmare for Bangladesh authorities and humanitarian help organizations, a actuality the Worldwide Rescue Committee (IRC) dubbed a “timebomb set to blow up.”

Nearly all the well being issues in Cox’s Bazar camps stem from dwelling situations. In 2018 alone, Docs With out Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières-MSF), carried out greater than 90,000 medical consultations for acute watery diarrhea. In response to MSF, the primary well being points, which embrace diarrheal ailments, higher and decrease respiratory tract infections and pores and skin ailments, are straight associated to issues with sanitation and entry to protected ingesting water. Easy issues like washing arms, cleansing cookware and different hygiene-related duties turn out to be exponentially more durable in a muddy tent with out working water.

Nongovernmental Organizations Carry Reduction

Although nonetheless underfunded and understaffed, nongovernmental organizations like MSF, IRC, World Well being Group (WHO) and UNHCR rapidly established themselves in Cox’s Bazar through the 2017 disaster. Since then, these organizations have supplied healthcare, provided drugs and provides, improved hygiene and provided psychological well being counseling to tons of of 1000’s of Rohingya, assuaging the strain on Bangladeshi authorities whereas the worldwide neighborhood searches for a extra sustainable answer.

Being the world’s largest refugee camp, humanitarian help teams have an countless stream of points to handle in Cox’s Bazar. Conducting over a million medical consultations since August 2017, MSF has performed a key function within the Rohingya neighborhood. The group distributed 23 million gallons of fresh water to handle the rampant diarrheal ailments, handled roughly 10,000 individuals for diphtheria and measles and continues to dispatch emergency response groups to restrain illness outbreaks.

MSF has additionally prioritized psychological well being providers as many Rohingya nonetheless address extreme trauma after witnessing atrocities in Rakhine. As soon as a overseas idea for Rohingya communities, MSF gives particular person and group remedy periods, psychosocial stimulation for malnourished kids and therapy for psychiatric situations. But, solely 5 % of MSF’s consultations have addressed PTSD as cultural obstacles and stigmas typically dissuade people from in search of assist. Searching for to dismantle these roadblocks, MSF reviews low drop out charges and a excessive variety of profitable discharges for psychological well being applications.

What’s Subsequent for the Rohingya?

For the practically a million Rohingya dwelling within the refugee camp, the longer term is unclear. Each the IRC and MSF report that almost all refugees want to return dwelling as soon as the state of affairs is steady; nevertheless, the Rakhine state is much from protected. In response to Amnesty Worldwide, Rohingya militias just lately ramped up assaults on police outposts, drawing a violent response from Myanmar safety forces that displaced roughly 5,000 individuals this previous January. Arbitrary detentions, unexplained disappearances and restrictions on meals and overseas help proceed to afflict Rohingya communities throughout Rakhine state. Myanmar has turn out to be an more and more harmful place for journalists and help employees.

Whereas some Rohingya have returned dwelling, all 42 nongovernmental organizations monitoring the state of affairs in Myanmar warn that repatriation efforts are untimely. In February 2019, Rohingya refugees have been nonetheless persevering with to flood into Cox’s Bazar, main authorities authorities to assemble new camps on the island of Bhashanchar the place they are able to ship 25,000 individuals. But, these responses are nothing greater than a short-term answer to a long-term drawback.

Because the world continues to seek for a solution, a million Rohingya refugees are compelled to face life in Cox’s Bazar with terrifying uncertainty. With continued violence and discrimination in opposition to the Rohingya in Myanmar, there may be little hope that the refugees will be capable of go dwelling anytime quickly. Persevering with to supply sources to Cox’s Bazar and looking out into different relocation websites stands out as the solely approach to alleviate the state of affairs.

– Kyle Dunphey

Picture: Flickr

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