Information in the wrong language is not information. Over 600,000 Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh in the past months, many of them entire families broken by violence. This is a complex humanitarian crisis, and one of the most difficult language contexts Translators without Borders has ever experienced. There is almost no translation capacity in Rohingya so communication between aid responders and vulnerable people in the refugee camps is extremely difficult. We are responding now.
The Rohingya who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh need basic but life-saving health care information in a language and format they can understand and use. There is almost no translation capacity to provide material in Rohingya language and furthermore, illiteracy levels among the affected population are high. Over half a million Rohingya refugees are at risk of diseases like cholera and diphtheria which are common in this monsoon season. They are in urgent need of medical information.
When surveyed in October 2017, a shocking number of Rohingya refugees said that they were unable to communicate with humanitarian responders. The issue of difficult communications is intensified by the fact that high numbers of the refugee community are illiterate. A team from TWB is in Cox's Bazar developing language and translation capacity in the languages that refugees understand, providing translation of healthcare material and developing resources for responding humanitarian non-profits.
TWB's approach is unique in that no other humanitarian organization is focused on language and translation. We are enabling crisis-responders to do their work effectively by helping them reach the Rohingya people and host communities in Cox's Bazar in the languages that they understand with the information that they urgently need. This can have a potentially transformative impact on the response. We are also building the capacity of our partners and the translation capacity of local people.