Rohingya Crisis: One year on your donations have reached vulnerable families facing monsoon rains
16 August 2018
What has happened?
One year on, (25 August) there are now more than 700,000 mainly Rohingya refugees who have reached the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, escaping violence in Rakhine region in neighbouring Myanmar.
Most of those refugees – mainly women and children – continue to need humanitarian aid for their daily survival.
What has been the impact of the monsoon season?
The monsoon rains typically begin in April and peak in July. The heavy rains have now started, and for mainly Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps, they face flooding and increased threat of disease outbreaks, with toilets, washrooms, and wells at risk.
Bishop Gervas Rozario, the head of Caritas Bangladesh, our local aid agency we are working with on the emergency response told us:
“We have worked with camp communities to prepare them, their shelters and the surrounding areas for the monsoon, which is underway.”
Why don’t you evacuate the refugees to safer ground?
Our Emergency Response Officer, Zoë Corden has done several trips to Cox’s Bazar supporting the emergency response. She explains:
"With such large numbers of people, it is not feasible to evacuate them elsewhere or build cyclone shelters.
“We are working on community preparedness reinforcing shelters and informing refugees about the potential hazards of storms, monsoons, and landslides.”
What has been the impact of your emergency response to date?
We are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that the most vulnerable refugees in makeshift camps receive the aid they need.
So far, we have reached more than 360,000 Rohingya refugees with lifesaving aid. Together with Caritas Bangladesh - supported by dedicated teams of local aid workers and volunteers, with your generous donations we have reached in Kutupalong and Moinargona Camp, and in Teknaf Upazila:
- 48,000 vulnerable families have received food - lentils, cooking oil, sugar, and salt.
- 41,000 families have received kitchen supplies and other family household kits, such as blankets, clothing and sleeping mats.
- 40,000 families have had their makeshift shelters rebuilt or strengthened against the heavy rains.
What are the needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?
The Rohingya refugees are living in extremely poor conditions. They are still in need of essential humanitarian aid, including clean water, sanitation, improved shelters and basic daily living supplies such as soap, and washing powder.
Rebeya, 20, is our Hygiene Promotion Volunteer – she has been working with Caritas Bangladesh for several months now.
“I came to understand that my role was, in fact, vital, good hygiene in these difficult conditions can prevent illness, and saves lives,” she said.
The second phase of our emergency response is well underway, together with Caritas Bangladesh we are working on reaching more than 39,000 vulnerable people with:
- The installation of solar street lighting, and distribution of solar lamps
- Pathway clearing, installation of bamboo steps, ramps, and bridges, and laying of irrigation underground.
- Repairs to existing safe water points, and construction of female bathing areas
- Community-based hygiene promotion activities.
- And the continued distribution of shelter upgrade kits – bamboo poles, rope, and tarpaulin.
Bishop Rozario, says that this is a long-term crisis which will need continued funding beyond the first anniversary.
“Where will the funding come from as the crisis goes into a second, third, or fourth year? No political solution appears likely in the foreseeable future.”
How much money has been raised so far?
Our supporters have shown incredible generosity, raising more than £350,000 for our Rohingya Crisis appeal. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), of which CAFOD is a member, has raised £26 million to date (including £5m UK Aid Match).
Who are the Rohingya people?
The Rohingya are a predominately Muslim ethnic group that has lived for centuries in Myanmar’s Rakhine region, making up roughly 2 per cent of the population.
What is the Catholic Church saying about the Rohingya Crisis?
The Catholic Church in Myanmar and Bangladesh, are urging all parties to this crisis to come together to seek a peaceful solution. They are also urging the international community to do all that they can in getting humanitarian aid to where it is needed most.
During his visit to Bangladesh at the end of November 2017, Pope Francis urged the international community to take “decisive measures” to resolve the causes of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.
In a speech before Bangladesh’s President Abdul Hamid, government officials and ambassadors from around the world, Pope Francis praised Bangladesh’s sacrifice and generosity in welcoming in so many refugees “before the eyes of the whole world.”
Pope Francis also met with Rohingya refugees who were accompanied by our partner, Caritas Bangladesh.
What about the repatriation agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar?
The safety of the refugees - the majority of whom are Rohingya - should be the priority. Repatriation should therefore only take place when there are firm guarantees for the safety, rights, and livelihoods of those who return.
Currently, there are still people fleeing Myanmar and arriving in Bangladesh, and no refugee who is still in fear of their life should be required to return. Despite very difficult and cramped conditions in the camps in Bangladesh, many Rohingya refugees would still prefer to stay than risk their lives. Any repatriation must, therefore, be voluntary.
The issue of safety must be addressed, as well as guarantees that families would be supported to rebuild their homes and lives. This requires further agreement on the refugees’ status in Myanmar and assurances that there are clear mechanisms in place to help ensure safe returns and protection on their return.
What can I do to support this vital emergency work?
Please donate to CAFOD's Rohingya Crisis Appeal:
- Or by Phone: +44 (0)8085 858 885