Forgotten About the Rohingya? They Need Us Now More than Ever

The Rohingya are still displaced, still in crisis and now they are facing a new threat: monsoon season.

It’s estimated that there are now around one million Rohingya refugees who have fled the violence and persecution they faced in Myanmar to be housed in makeshift camps in Bangladesh. These camps are far from a safe haven, though. Despite health agencies and local officials working hard, providing food, water and basic sanitation is proving challenging.

Bangladeshi authorities are keen to send the Rohingya back across the border, but they can only do that when Myanmar will guarantee their safety. At the moment, Myanmar still refuses to even acknowledge the Rohingya’s status as citizens, so that safety is anything but guaranteed.

And now the UN and other agencies are rushing to help the Rohingya as the monsoon rains close in. The rains began around April and have already swept away “rickety” makeshift houses. As of mid May the monsoon rains are really setting in, with up to 200,000 people in immediate danger.

“The latest reporting … indicates that more than 7,000 people were affected by storms or landslides in the week of May 7-14 alone, at the start of the monsoon season.” UN chief’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters earlier this week, “As a result, 150,000-200,000 refugees and 883 community facilities are at risk from flooding and landslides during the monsoon season, including 25,000 refugees at critical risk.”

Bangladesh has demonstrated a remarkable resilience and scope for dealing with the heavy rainfall and resulting floods and mudslides. However, the Rohingya camps present unique challenges, as their dwellings are flimsy and built on arid land that is susceptible to becoming a quagmire when the rains fall.

But the UN and other agencies are trying to help.

The International Organization for Migration is dredging abandoned canals near to the Cox’s Bazar area which houses a large proportion of the Rohingya. By doing this, it is hopes that the waterway can be restored, allowing water to flow from nearby hills and away, hopefully sparing the surrounding land from major flooding.

In addition, the UN has announced it is employing 50 Bangladeshi laborers to oversee and carry out the work, something that is important for supporting the local workforce and their experience.

This is one of several projects that various agencies are working on to help the Rohingya and the local population. However, in late April the UN warned of a “life threatening” funding crisis faced by aid agencies. International attention has turned elsewhere, so there is now a shortfall in the money they need to help the vulnerable refugees and the surrounding populations of Bangladeshi citizens who are also left vulnerable.

“We cannot wait for funding to come in after the emergency is over and possibly preventable tragedies have occurred,” John McCue, IOM’s Senior Operations Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar is quoted  as saying. “We need to be able to act now if lives are to be saved.”

To give you an idea of the shortfall, the UN says that, as of late April, only about nine percent of the needed $951 million has been secured. In effect, the aid agencies still need close to a billion dollars in order to help those most in need.

That money isn’t just for flood defense and mitigation. Around a quarter of that money is for food alone. Much of the rest will go to things like ensuring the water supply remains intact, battling disease and other important elements to basic health care.

This money is vital to continuing aid efforts and to helping the Rohingya survive the monsoon season.

Of course, this alone will not fix the crisis. For that to happen, Myanmar must put aside the bloodshed — something that has occurred on both sides, but was sparked by Burmese authorities — and seek peaceful solutions to the Myanmar-Rohingya rift.

That first step must be in recognizing the Rohingya as lawful citizens, and thereby worthy of all the rights and protections that is conferred under that citizenship.

Take Action!

Raise your voice to make sure the world knows about the Rohingya’s story. Sign the petition today!

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: EU Civil Protection and Human Rights.

50 comments

Dave fleming
Dave fleming4 months ago

Tfs

SEND
Cindy S
Cindy Smith4 months ago

thanks

SEND
Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R4 months ago

... petition signed/shared. Thank you.

SEND
Shirley S
Shirley S4 months ago

Signed & shared on FB

SEND
Marija M
Marija M4 months ago

So very sad, poor people.

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

Every donation of foreign aid and refugee aid should be contingent upon the people accepting contraceptive injections. The last thing a woman with six children in a refugee camp needs is to have seven children. The last thing aid workers supplying the camp need is to have the population double over a few years, with all the medical and disease risks of pregnancy. Nations which have sensibly levelled their population are tired of paying for nations which recklessly increase theirs beyond any capacity for the land to feed. It was all right in the 1900s. Today there are options. When the people can go home and feed themselves or whatever they can have all the children they can support. By then the women might have caught on that it's better not to be endlessly pregnant.

SEND
Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

th

SEND
Emma Z
Past Member 4 months ago

Signed, of course.

SEND
DAVID fleming
Dave fleming4 months ago

Sad

SEND