Faith Matters

Rohinghya refugees in desperate need

ROHINGYA CRISIS: The Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, has been flooded due to monsoon rain. Some people are living with the flood water but others are moving to find safer areas. Picture by Christian Aid.

THE plight of the Rohingya Muslims escaping violence in Myanmar has provoked outrage around the world, as well as a desire to do something to help.

Around 500,000 Rohingya people are thought to have fled their homes in Rakhine State and crossed Myanmar's border into Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district.

Fresh violence broke out in Myanmar at the end of August, with more than 200 villages destroyed, leading to tens of thousands people being displaced from their homes.

Christian Aid was already working in the region when the latest trouble began, and it is appealing for help for all of the communities affected.

The charity has been working in camps and with conflict-affected communities in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

Permission to work in refugee camps in Bangladesh has been limited until now to a handful of non-governmental organisations, but the country says it is now willing to accept further support.

Christian Aid is working with authorities in both countries to secure permission to work with those in need.

"The number of refugees arriving in Bangladesh is rising rapidly - an estimated 15,000 people coming across the border daily - and now monsoon rains causing flooding in the makeshift camps are making the situation even worse," said Ram Kishan, the charity's South Asia regional emergency manager.

"In Myanmar, internally displaced people in central Rakhine haven't received regular assistance for days.

"The humanitarian needs on both sides of the border are mounting up."

Madara Hettiarachchi, Christian Aid's head of humanitarian programmes in Asia and the Middle East, said action was needed now.

"Those who have made it to the border have walked for days, crossing difficult terrain and without food," she said.

"Many are sick and access to water and medical supplies are limited.

"The number of those who need humanitarian help is huge and we need to dramatically scale up our work not only for the initial response but for the long-term.

"We have the local partners in place ready, now we urgently need the funds to support that work."

Funds to provide food, water, hygiene and sanitation, as well as healthcare provision to thousands of people, is desperately needed.

:: To donate to the Rohingya Crisis Appeal, visit www.christianaid.ie or telephone 028 9064 8133 in Northern Ireland or, in the Republic, 01 496 7040.

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