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Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

by Concern Worldwide US
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Assist Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Amir in Bangladesh. Photo: Sabrina Idriss (2019).
Amir in Bangladesh. Photo: Sabrina Idriss (2019).

Dear Generous Supporter,

For this months's update, I'd like to share with you a story about a Rohingya refugee, one of the tens of thousands supported by Concern in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. But this refugee is special because he went from being a recipient of humanitarian assistance to a full-fledged humanitarian himself.

The story below was written by Concern's Clare Ahern and is evidence of the incredible impact your support has, but also of how Concern's staff of nearly 4,000 humanitarians worldwide all have their own inspiring stories.

TRAGEDY AND LOSS

At home in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amir* never imagined he would one day become a refugee. In mid-2017, his wife had just given birth to their first child, a little baby boy. Life was relatively good and they were discovering the joy of parenthood. However, that joy was to be short-lived. In August of that year, as part of a major escalation of racial tensions, their village was attacked and they were forced to flee.

Amir’s mother, wife, and son managed to make it to a boat making towards Bangladesh. He and his father became separated and were taken captive, but managed to escape separately. Amir was badly injured. “They stabbed me in my back and my leg to ensure I could not leave.”

Amir and a group of his fellow captives eventually found a way to escape from where they were being detained. Heroically, they risked their lives to rescue others before they fled. “We knew that they were not going to spare a single female, no matter what age she was,” he says. “So we tried to get the females out first. No matter if it cost our lives.”

Tragically, Amir would learn that the boat carrying the rest of his family capsized. In agonizing pain from his stab wounds and close to unconsciousness, he searched for two days but never found them.

REFUGE AND RECOVERY

In October 2017 Amir reached at Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and was admitted to a hospital to be treated for his wounds. Slowly he began to rebuild his life. He now works as a volunteer in one of Concern’s nutrition centers, which provide recovery support for young children who are severely malnourished.

Visiting households, he screens children and refers those who show symptoms to the nutrition centers.

He says, “I never imagined I could stand back up — I was traumatized from the death of my family. I feel much better now. I like working with the children.”

Amir has since re-married and he and his wife now have a young baby boy. Together, they live alongside his grandmother, father, and younger sister and he finds joy both in his work and spending time with his family. “I lost my own child and then gained another, but I also watch over so many in the camp.”

*Name has been changed for security reasons.

Reshma, a refugee. By: Abir Abdullah (Concern)
Reshma, a refugee. By: Abir Abdullah (Concern)

Dear Supporter,

Since August 2017, 750,000 Rohingya refugees — including more than 400,000 children — have fled to the Cox’s Bazar camp in southeast Bangladesh to escape violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. It is now the largest refugee camp on Earth.

Sadly, one in six of the Rohingya children living in Cox’s Bazar are malnourished. That’s over 65,000 children under the age of 5 going hungry and running the risk of effects like stunting that can affect them for the rest of their lives — or even cut those precious lives short.

As the crisis has now reached a grim milestone of two years on, let's take a look back at how it began and what Concern is doing to respond to the latest threats facing refugees today.

Who Are the Rohingya and What Happened in 2017?

The Rohingya are a majority-Muslim ethnic group that has lived in the mostly Buddhist nation of Myanmar for centuries. At the beginning of September 2017, over 435,000 Rohingya poured into the southeastern Bangladesh city of Cox’s Bazar, fleeing violence in their home villages.

On average, most Rohingya refugee families arriving in Bangladesh came with 4 children and spent up to 10 days fleeing to the safety by foot. Many arrived with nothing but their lives and the lives of their children.

What Challenges do the Rohingya Face in 2019?

Flooding

The rainy seasons in Bangladesh have made day-to-day living in the crowded camps even worse.  As of August 2019, floods in Bangladesh have affected 7 million people (primarily in the northeast). The rainy season impacts roughly 60% of the country.

Clean Water

Despite monsoons and heavy rains, many Rohingya only have access to water from rivers and ponds — the same waters they defecate and wash in. Those who have made it to Bangladesh are in desperate need of basic essentials, including food, shelter, and clean water.

Food, Nutrition, and Healthcare

When they arrive into Bangladesh, many Rohingya are already hungry or showing signs of malnutrition. Severe acute malnutrition affects children the most and leaves them more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases like cholera and diarrhea.

Safe Spaces and Resources for Women

Rohingya women traveling alone or with only their children, are vulnerable to gender-based violence and in need of safe spaces, hygiene supplies, and basic items to maintain their dignity.

Housing and Shelter

Many Rohingya are living in overcrowded or makeshift camps in Bangladesh. Others have no option but to be homeless on the streets, while thousands of others are stuck between the borders. What shelters families do have are threatened by rains and monsoons.

A Long Commitment to Bangladesh

Concern has been working in Bangladesh since 1972. In over 45 years, we’ve reached millions of people with lifesaving emergency response as well as longer-term development programs. Concern has worked in the past with the Rohingya, and our current response to this emergency ties directly into our mission of focusing on the poorest, most vulnerable members of our global community.

In 2018 alone, Concern screened approximately 49,500 children across nine refugee camps for signs of severe malnutrition every month, admitting over 6,140 to our outpatient clinics, where we achieved a cure rate of 97%.

Our work in Bangladesh is thanks to your support. We simply couldn't do it without you.

Dear Supporter,

Thanks in part to your contributions, Concern continues to provide high quality support to vulnerable Rohingya refugees. Most Rohingya refugees are concentrated in the Cox’s Bazar district on the southeast coast of Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is best known for its idyllic beaches, however it is one of the poorest district in Bangladesh and the villages where most of the camps are located are among the most socially deprived in the country. The host community in Cox’s Bazar has been generous and gracious in welcoming the Rohingya refugees but they are under increasing strain as the influx continues. The price of basic goods such as firewood has more than doubled due to the increased demand.

What began as a cluster of informal settlements on a hillside in Cox’s Bazar has developed into one of the world’s largest refugee camps, hosting almost a million Rohingya refugees. Concern started working in the camp in September 2017 and was among the first humanitarian responders in the Cox’s Bazar district. Concern’s initial emergency projects responded to the immediate needs of the refugee population by providing much needed food items and later we began distributing non-food-items.

Our services have since expanded and, in partnership with UNICEF, we are now providing nutrition services to women and children in makeshift settlements throughout seven locations. We have screened well over 300,000 Rohingya children under five for malnutrition. The Cox’s Bazar refugee camps are at capacity and as the influx of Rohingya refugees continues, overcrowding is becoming a real issue. The camp’s basic services are under huge pressure and the close proximity of shelters increases the risk of illness and disease. 

Thanks in part to your support we can continue to respond to these pressing needs, and for this we are deeply grateful.

Concern staff conducting assessments.
Concern staff conducting assessments.
Marzaan and her children in their home
Marzaan and her children in their home

 Dear Supporter,

Thanks in part to your support, Concern continues to respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A needs assessment in October of 2018 illustrated the need for lighting in the camps. A lack of adequate lighting puts people, especially women and children, in danger when moving around the camp after dark. It also interferes with children’s ability to study and the productivity of their parents after dark. Based on the identified needs, Concern Worldwide carried out a solar light distribution in November of 2018. Today. I want to share with you the story of one of the families who received a solar light.

Marzaan has nine children (6 boys and 3 girls), and is originally from the Rakhine state of Myanmar. She and her children now stay in refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“When I arrived in Bangladesh, my only belongings were my nine children. I came across the Shah Pori Island after the military attack at my village. The Burmese army set fire to the brush and five people were shot dead, including my husband Mohammad Shafi.

Marzaan had a house, several small businesses, and a happy family before she became a refugee. Upon fleeing her village with her children, she walked for five days until finding the route towards Bangladesh. After staying at a relative’s house for a couple of days, she sold her last pair of gold earrings to buy a piece of plastic sheet and travel to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. She secured her shelter in the camp and stayed there for thirteen months. When heavy monsoons caused a landslide, Marzaan and her family had to transfer camps and lost some of their possessions.

Marzaan and her family were selected to receive a solar light through Concern’s solar light distribution program due to the face that she was a single woman with many children to support. Marzaan was very relieved to receive the light, as she had been worried about the safety of her children, especially her daughters, after dark.

She describes, “My daughters were scared to go to the latrine after dark. All of them were unable to study at night as I had no light in the house. I didn’t know how to light up the house adequately without electricity.”

Thanks in part to your contributions, families like Marzaan and her children have solved their lighting crisis, and are now able to live safer and more full lives.

Lukia
Lukia

Dear Supporter,

The Rohingya continue to live in makeshift refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Although they have made it through the monsoon season, the danger has not yet passed, and many people still call these camps home.

Lukia* (18) grew up in the Jalipara region of Rakhine State with her three sisters and brother. Her father was a fisherman, who provided for her whole family. They had no land or livestock but lived peacefully and could even afford to eat meat two or three times a month. She married just one week before the conflict broke out.  

Lukia was not inside her family home when it was attacked by the Myanmar army, who used a rocket launcher to set it on fire. Her parents, brother and husband sadly were inside, and died instantly. Lukia managed to escape her village without capture and spent two days walking to safety with her neighbours, who also suffered loss at the hands of the Myanmar army.

After they arrived at a river, they hoped to get a boat to safety, but Lukia was denied access, since she had no money to pay the boatmen. At this point, Lukia hadn't eaten for two days and had no choice but to stay and wait in a tent with strangers for almost two weeks.

During this time, Lukia managed to send information on her whereabouts to her eldest sister, who had already fled to safety in Bangladesh. It didn’t take long for her sister and nephew to reach the border and bring her with them by boat. Despite this, Lukia still feared the Myanmar army would capture her. Those fears didn’t subside until she finally reached the refugee camp safely.

Upon arrival, Lukia was given mats, blankets, soap and a water container from Concern Worldwide. Although Lukia feels safe in the camp, she’s not allowed to work, so she receives no income. She only eats rice, daal and, on occasion, dried fish. She dreams of returning home to Myanmar when the bitter conflict ends. Until then, she is grateful for the safety and care that she is provided in the camp.

Thanks in part to your support, women like Lukia can begin the process of rebuilding their lives in relative safety and comfort.

Lukia sits with her relatives
Lukia sits with her relatives
 

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Organization Information

Concern Worldwide US

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @concernGCC, @concern
Project Leader:
Conner Purcell
New York, NY United States
* This project is competing for bonus prizes
through the Year End Campaign 2019. Terms and conditions apply.

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