Six months since more than 688,000 refugees fled mass violence in Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, there are still urgent needs for medical treatment, sanitation and shelter, according to international aid agency CARE.
CARE’s Country Director in Bangladesh, Zia Choudhury, warned the upcoming monsoon season threatens to make the already dire humanitarian situation even worse.
“Six months into the crisis, every day that passes means people are at risk of being forgotten,” Mr Choudhury said.
“It’s vital we continue our support, particularly ahead of the monsoon rains, which will have a detrimental effect on the aid services we have provided so far. We only have a short window to act or the situation could deteriorate dramatically.”
The concentration of refugees in camps in Bangladesh is now among the densest in the world. CARE is warning the looming monsoon rains could flood settlement areas, making it more difficult for refugees to access basic services including medical facilities, wells and aid distribution points.
“The temporary shelters are not built to withstand heavy downpours,” Mr Choudhury said. “Some emergency structures, such as toilets and bathing areas, could be washed away. Heavy rains could also contaminate water sources, leading to outbreaks of disease.”
To help families prepare, CARE has been providing training for refugees on safe construction techniques, including information on how to stabilise their tents. CARE is also providing families with building materials and tools.
CARE has been working in the refugee camps since the beginning of the crisis and has reached almost 200,000 people with emergency shelter, medical support, clean water, sanitation, and other relief services. To ramp up aid efforts, CARE had appealed for $US10 million for an initial 12 months. Six months into the crisis, only half the appeal has been funded.
Donations can be made to CARE’s Myanmar Bangladesh Crisis appeal at www.care.org.au/bangladesh
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