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For decades, the daily life of the Rohingya in Myanmar has been marked by oppression, exclusion and violence. The last violent attack by the military in late August 2017 resulted in a mass exodus to Bangladesh. Nearly a million Rohingya, including many women and children, have sought protection in the border region around Cox's Bazar in the district of Chittagong in south-eastern Bangladesh. They are severely traumatized by the violence in Myanmar and have lost everything.
But in Bangladesh, too, their situation is abysmal. Refugees are subject to strict conditions, are not allowed to move freely or do work. Most of them live in shabby tents in the most cramped conditions, and many families are forced to sleep in the open. Hygiene conditions are wretched. There is no running water, and certainly no drinking water, and very few sanitary facilities. Human traffickers are exploiting the situation. ‘Girls and women especially are exposed to great risks’, says Amrita Rozario, an employee of Caritas Switzerland in Bangladesh. ‘The needs are immense.’
Caritas Switzerland aid
Caritas Switzerland has started two projects in the Kutupalong refugee camp, amounting to a total of CHF 1.3 million. In cooperation with Caritas Bangladesh and with the support of Swiss Solidarity, we are distributing cooking gas, so that the families can prepare meals without the lengthy search for firewood. In the completely deforested surrounding area, such firewood is in any case difficult to find. Families receive hygiene kits with water containers and mugs, cleaning materials, toiletries especially for children, nail clippers and sanitary products for girls and women. In addition, we distribute items to facilitate waste disposal in the camp. These measures are supplemented with hygiene training as well as instruction on the correct use of the distributed materials.
Caritas Switzerland is also investing in infrastructure. In order to significantly improve the hygiene situation in the long term, we are working with local craftsmen to repair 150 groundwater wells, 135 latrines and 120 bath houses and we are training the camp residents in how to maintain them. In addition, the terrain is being stabilised and 85 semi-permanent huts with a lifespan of around 3 years are being built. In contrast to the current temporary huts, they will also withstand moderately severe storms. The different measures provide an income for 140 Rohingya and local Bengali families and will benefit a total of 43,715 refugees.
The aid of the Caritas network
Caritas Bangladesh, supported by Caritas Switzerland and other organizations from the international Caritas network, is providing aid to Rohingya refugees in the region around Cox's Bazaar and in other areas. They distribute food and household items such as plastic sheeting, dishes or blankets to thousands of families. They also provide people with hygiene kits containing soaps, babies' nappies, water cans, buckets and other items of basic personal hygiene. Caritas Bangladesh aid reaches some 250 000 people.
More people are still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh. To expand its own help, Caritas Switzerland is dependent upon support. Thank you for your donation to account number 60-7000-4 (Note: «Rohingya»).