The United Nation’s top human rights official has described the atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingya people as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. There have been at least 400 confirmed deaths – with higher estimates ranging up to 3,000.
At least 606,000 people have fled Myanmar in search of refuge – with 400,000 since late August alone.
What have we been doing to help?
Al-Khair Foundation teams have been working tirelessly at Cox Bazar’s Balukhali refugee camp and directly in Myanmar’s Northern Sittwe region, within the besieged Rakhine State. We have been striving to help improve the situation of Rohingya refugees driven from their homes, driven from their villages – and those internally displaced.
Studies have shown Rohingya children are likely to have stunted growth as a result endemic malnutrition – at least 13,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh are thought to be suffering from severe and acute malnutrition.
Waterborne illnesses and diarrhoea can be leading causes of sickness and even death, whilst access to basic healthcare facilities is limited.
In order to meet the medical needs of this vulnerable population, AKF are currently delivering primary health care services with our partner organisations to around 500 individuals a day – with the special assistance of doctors, specialist, nurses and health care volunteers.
After a thorough needs assessment and geographical survey, our water projects have been implemented to maximise effectiveness and meet the local requirements of communities in need. AKF installed over 12 shallow tube wells in Rohingya refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar and 10 in villages in Northern Sittwe, bordering Rathedaung in Rakhine state – these hand pumps are already providing safe and clean water to hundreds.
Further wells are under construction, as we aim to ensure the Rohingya do not go thirsty as the next dry season approaches. At least 30 deep tube wells are scheduled to be installed, alongside a sustainable solar pump – this will generate an estimated total of 12,000 litres of water to quench the thirst of desolate Rohingya communities.
In addition to negative impacts on hygiene and sanitation, women and children who travel for some distance in order to relieve themselves are under increased danger of sexual assault. To ensure safety, sanitation and hygiene, AKF have constructed over 10 toilets in Cox’s Bazar for refugees – with more planned. Food items and hygiene kits have also been distributed directly to 956 Rohingya families in Myanmar.
With basic shelter lacking, AKF have been implementing a phased approach to providing Rohingya refugees with peace of mind and a safe roof to sleep under. The first phase of the project is now firmly under way, with over 600 transitional shelters – with a further 1300 planned in the upcoming phases. AKF teams have taken care to ensure these dwellings conform to international standards of quality, as laid down by the International Organization for Migration.
Over half of the refugees caught up in the crisis are children. With homes destroyed and education provision limited, trauma is widespread – whole childhoods have been stolen away from thousands of innocents. AKF teams on the ground in Myanmar have started construction on expanding an existing school in Rakhine state – giving the local Rohingya children the opportunity to dream of a better future.
These initiatives are just the start. AKF’s commitment towards easing the plight of the long-suffering Rohingya remains resolute.
Please Note: AKF are implementing programmes at a fast pace – these figures are correct as of 6th October 2017.
by Amaan Qureshi