The Rohingya refugees, who have already suffered Bangladesh’s stifling heat and monsoon rains, are now bracing themselves for a harsh winter; and with a lack of warm clothing this only adds to their ongoing misery. At the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar (Southern Bangladesh), doctors are warning against the increased risk of an outbreak of cold-borne diseases, such as respiratory tract infections.
In such conditions it is the children that are the most vulnerable. During winter, the temperature in Cox’s Bazar dips to around 10–15 degrees, with December and January being the most unbearable months.
Over 800,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in the southern most districts of Bangladesh. Since the end of August over 600,000 people have crossed the border, having fled the violence in Myanmar. The majority of the new arrivals live in crowded makeshift settlements and there are no words to describe their sufferings, particularly the conditions of the women and children. In such a humanitarian crisis, we all need to help.
At the beginning of October, the Sreepur Village team, led by Pat, visited the Rohingya refugee camps and decided to produce sanitary products for the women and nappies for the babies. According to Pat, these products are essential to the women and children as they face the harsh reality of life in the makeshift settlements. With the help of the Sreepur women and children, we were able to produce 4700 sanitary towels and 1600 nappies.
“Please give us something for our children”, pleaded Yasmin, 25 and Farida, 15, in their broken voices - they couldn’t say any more than this.
Later, Farida narrated her horrific experience. Her father was slaughtered and her husband was gunned down by the Myanmar army right in front of her face. The same thing happened to Yasmin’s family. Both women, along with their children, fled from the spot with the sole aim to cross the border and reach a safer place.
At the end of summer, in August, the news headlines were heavily featured with The Rohingya crisis which has seen at least 500,00 Rohingya flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. Although the crisis has intensified in recent months, the targeted, sometimes violent, discrimination of this minority group is anything but new.
With many babies and children without families and food, this week The Sreepur Village has travelled down to the South with supplies, which may seem a small gesture in such a grand scale crisis, but as a humanitarian charity we know that every little bit counts and will do anything if it means helping to save lives, and provide comfort, food, warmth and shelter to those in need.