Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: On September 11, 2018 CARE Bangladesh observed day long activities in Ukhiya and Cox’s Bazar city to mark one year of its emergency response for Myanmar refugees. The event took place in two parts where interactive activities took place for both Myanmar refugees and guest participantsDuring the morning session, various activities were arranged for the refugees and the host community members who live in the vicinity of the camps. As the Myanmar nationals are not allowed to go far beyond their designated camps, daylong activities were arranged within the camps where CARE has been working over the past one year.
CARE Bangladesh has been working in several camps to deliver services to the refugees and the host communities. More specifically, CARE is responsible, along with the Government of Bangladesh, for site management activities in Camp 16 (Potibunia). On the occasion of marking its one year of intervention, CARE organized various interactive activities including art and quiz competitions, short drama, role play and brief discussions. Women and young girls who are direct beneficiaries of services at the Women Friendly Spaces (WFSs) operated by CARE, took part in singing and art competitions organized by CARE’s Gender-Based Violence (GBV) & Protection sector .The participants also talked about their fond memories and future dreams. “I want to continue my education and when I grow up I want to work like the sisters in WFS”, shared Noor Kajol (12). More activities were arranged by WASH sector where the women and adolescents took part in quiz competitions and role-playing games on hygiene issues. Refugees who took part in the various competitions received prizes. Photo exhibitions of past and present situation was also organized in the camp premise. In addition to five WFSs, two new ones were inaugurated at camps 1W and 1E, and visits were conducted at CARE managed health posts and nutrition centers. The day long activity was attended by CARE members from USA, the Netherlands, UK, Canada, Myanmar and CARE International, and CARE Bangladesh staff.The events at Camp 16 was chaired by Zia Choudhury, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh, while Md. Shahid Ullah, Assistant Camp In Charge (CiC), joined as chief guest and Md. Shajjadul Haque, Youth Development Officer, Ukhiya Upazila was the special guest.
The second part of the one year event was held later that evening, at a local hotel in Cox’s Bazar. This event was attended by senior government officials and representatives from the UN and non-government agencies including national and international partners. The chief guest at the event was Md. Kamal Hossain, Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar and Mohammad Ashraful Afsar, Additional District Magistrate of Cox’s Bazar was the special guest. Among other guests were representatives from Refugee Repatriation and Response Commission (RRRC) and Camp-in-Charge (CiC) offices from various camps in Ukhiya. The event was chaired by Zia Choudhury, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh.
Recognizing CARE’s efforts in supporting the Myanmar refugees for the past one year and stressing on the need for initiating interventions for the host community, Kamal Hossain said, “All the people in Cox’s bazar are affected by this [emergency crisis], even the residents in Cox’s Bazar [city]. In the JRP [Joint Response Plan] from March – December, it is said that 25% of the resources will be allocated for the host community in this region and we are trying to ensure that the NGOs and INGOs are allocating 25% (of resources) to the host community development. The people of the host community shared their food and shelter when the Rohingyas arrived, so looking after their wellbeing is also important during this time. Of course, we want safe repatriation for them and without the initiatives of CARE and other NGOs and INGOs to the Government of Bangladesh, this support would not have been possible. It is our initiative to keep them safe while they are here, at the same time we should also take necessary actions for the host community.”
Mohammad Ashraful Afsar, thanked CARE for pioneering first standalone host community project that no other organization has initiated yet. He also urged CARE and other organizations to ensure equitable distribution of resources throughout Cox’s Bazar as per the JRP. He also acknowledged CARE for taking the lead with the Bangladesh Government’s Family Planning Department in collecting data for new born children and pregnant mothers in the refugee camps. He stressed that for future projects and interventions, overall law and order and security measures for the district should be taken into consideration by the humanitarian organizations.
In his concluding remark, Zia Choudhury thanked all the Bangladesh Govt. officials, NGOs, and partner organizations for attending the event and said, “This is a day we are marking one year of progress. We are increasing our budget for the host community in entire Cox’s Bazar. We are hoping to establish regular development program in Cox’s Bazar and we will urge our donors to support us in that. Across the globe there is a very negative approach towards refugees, but here, people have extended their arms to the people from Myanmar, gave them safety and refuge, and a place they can call home until it is safer to go back to their real home. CARE and the Government of Bangladesh will continue to stand by these people until it is safe to return, and CARE will also stand by the people of Bangladesh who have opened their doors, their wallets and their hearts to serve these people.”
September 13, 2017 marks the official start date of CARE’s response to the humanitarian crisis of the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMN). On this day, CARE reached out to the Myanmar nationals arriving in Bangladesh with cooked food and non-food items (NFI). Over the next 365 days CARE has reached out to the Myanmar nationals with as shelter, health and WASH services, along with special programs for victims of sexual violence.