‘We need drink­ing wa­ter & food now’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION -

Tek­naf, Cox’s Bazar: As thou­sands of Ro­hingya refugees, flee­ing their home­land, cross the bor­der at Cox’s Bazar each day, Bangladesh stares at a mas­sive cri­sis with aid agen­cies fall­ing se­verely short of drink­ing wa­ter and other es­sen­tial sup­plies. hap­less refugees now find them­selves to be the tar­get of hunger and dis­eases.

“It has made a tran­si­tion from a non-emer­gency to an emer­gency phase now. At this junc­ture, we need big air­lifts and large amount of aid to reach peo­ple en­ter­ing Bangladesh in huge num­bers,” said Chris Lom, se­nior re­gional me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer of In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion (IOM).

He knows that with around 20,000-25,000 refugees en­ter­ing Cox’s Bazar each day, even the best of ef­forts are prov­ing in­ad­e­quate. The in­ter­na­tional aid agen­cies have pro­vided tar­pau­lins for 85,000 peo­ple since Au­gust 25. The rest are forced to live un­der the open sky.

At ar­eas like Shah Porir Dwip, Shamalpur and Leda, Ro­hingya refugees con­tin­ued to pour in. For sev­eral days, they have braved rain in the jun­gles, sur­vived on worms, weeds and even leaves and drank wa­ter from dirty streams. Some of the el­derly were too ex­hausted to walk any­more and sat amid the jun­gle. Those who made it to the Myan­mar bor­ders con­tin­ued to starve.

“We have car­ried my fa­ther slung in bam­boo poles and walked through the ter­rain hid­den in­side the jun­gle. For the first few days we had given him flat­tened rice to eat. Later we ate what­ever we could lay our hands on. He needs wa­ter and food now,” said Mo­barak, who had been walk­ing for the past eight days.

“This is the most chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion for the agen­cies and NGOs work­ing in the area. We saw peo­ple defe­cat­ing in the open at many places and women col­lect­ing wa­ter from pud­dles that are only few me­ters away from those spots,” Lom said.

Ku­tu­palang and Naya­para camps are over­pop­u­lated and can­not ac­com­mo­date more. Hav­ing hosted 21,000 peo­ple over the past fort­night, new makeshift camps were set up to house 1.55 lakh refugees. “We need to pro­vide safe drink­ing wa­ter and ba­sic san­i­ta­tion. We want to pre­vent wa­ter-borne dis­eases,” said­child pro­tec­tion chief, UNICEF Bangladesh.

Ro­hit Khanna

Chil­dren at a Ku­tu­palang camp ask­ing for meals

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.