‘We need drinking water & food now’
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.
Children at a Kutupalang camp asking for meals