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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 very difficult. Refugees are subject to strict conditions, are not allowed to move freely or do work. Most of them live in tents in the most cramped conditions. Hygiene conditions are wretched. There is almost no running water or 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 investing in infrastructure. In order to significantly improve the hygiene situation in the long term, we are working with local craftsmen to repair 115 groundwater wells, 275 latrines and 180 bath houses and we are training the camp residents in how to maintain them. In addition, the terrain is being stabilised and 405 semi-permanent huts with a lifespan of around 3 years are being built. They will also withstand moderately severe storms. To ensure that not only the buildings, but also the entire settlement site is made more stable and safe, we are improving the drainage ditches and footpaths and are reinforcing the terrain in order to prevent landslides and flooding.
Caritas Switzerland is also 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.
The different measures will benefit a total of about 50 000 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 275 000 people.