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Lausanne, Switzerland – 15 November 2017.

Almost three months after conflict reignited in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, Rohingya communities are still fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh. To this day, 618,000 Rohingya have arrived in the country since 25 August 2017.

Medair, who have been in Cox’s Bazar District since September, have done numerous assessments to determine what the greatest needs are and how best to meet them. The international NGO has identified Thaingkhali, a spontaneous settlement south of Kutupalong Camp, as one of the less-served areas. Prior to the 25 August crisis, only 100 Rohingya lived in Thaingkhali. Today, there are approximately 29,000.

The most urgent needs among Rohingya refugees remain food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene. Indeed, the overcrowded living conditions inside the settlements, as well as the lack of safe water and sanitation facilities, promote diseases and outbreaks. Medair is working with a partner to distribute shelter and hygiene kits to some of the most vulnerable newly arrived Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Most people, if not all, we have met in the camps came with nothing. In order to escape violence and death, they have fled from their village and hidden in the jungle for days before being able to cross the river and the border into Bangladesh. With hundreds of refugees still arriving every day, and still many organisations waiting for the government’s green light to operate, the needs are overwhelming,” says Alex Fergusson, Medair’s emergency response team leader in Cox’s Bazar. Despite the trauma and rough conditions, Medair staff have been impressed with the resilience and courage the Rohingya have demonstrated. “We can barely imagine what these families have been through in the past month. The stories we hear are harrowing; yet, they meet us with grateful smiles and helping hands;” adds Alex.

Medair, in partnership with World Concern in Bangladesh, has procured 4,500 shelter kits (tarps and ropes to make temporary emergency shelters) and 4,500 hygiene kits (water containers, soap, laundry detergent and feminine hygiene items), which will help approximately 22,500 refugees. The emergency response teams have distributed 3,902 kits so far and plan on distributing the remaining 5,098 in the next two weeks.

Swiss Solidarity, the Swiss fundraising NGO, announced yesterday that it was granting CHF 200,000 to Medair’s Rohingya response, which will complement the private donations received so far.

Medair is an international relief agency headquartered in Switzerland. We help people who are suffering in remote and devastated communities around the world survive crises and recover with dignity, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or nationality. 

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Photo: A Rohingya mother and her child collect rain water from their makeshift shelter in a refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar. © MedairNath Fauveau

For regular updates, please check our Twitter feeds @MedairInt and @MedairPress.