Myanmar Refugee Crisis: Women and Children in Urgent Need of Assistance, Warns CARE
01 October, 2017
More than 300,000 women and children who have fled from Myanmar to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh are in urgent need of safe shelter, health services, sanitary facilities and protection, warns the international aid organization CARE.
“Our team spoke to dozens of women, and almost all appear traumatized by experiences in the last few weeks and months. Many trekked barefoot for days, through fields, jungles and rivers to get here. I spoke to many women who made this journey while pregnant or carrying small children”, says Zia Choudhury, CARE Bangladesh’s Country Director. “Women and children need urgent support to help them recover from the horrific journey from Myanmar, as well as to live with dignity in these terribly overcrowded and chaotic places where they seek safety.”
According to a recent CARE assessment in Balukhali Camp in Cox’s Bazar women lack privacy, safe places to sleep, sufficient sanitation facilities and mental health support. In addition, a lot of them do not have the means to feed their children and worry for their mental and physical health; many children are suffering from traumatic experiences, skin diseases, diarrhea and fevers. “Tens of thousands of refugees from Myanmar had to leave everything behind. Women who live in camps and other temporary shelter with inadequate health care and food are particularly at risk,” says Choudhury.
According to CARE’s assessment, about 6,000 people are sharing three latrines. “Women often wait till dark before relieving themselves, going out in groups for safety. Pregnant, lactating and menstruating women are in a desperate situation and are compromising their health due to the lack of bathrooms and showers,” adds Choudhury. According to CARE’s findings the average queuing time to use one of the toilets is close to two hours. “In 20 years of working with refugees across the world, these are some of the worst conditions I have seen. I am fearful that conditions are perfect for an epidemic, and then we will have a second disaster” says Choudhury.
In the past one month, more than 436,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh after an escalation of violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State. Most of the refugees, around 80 percent, are women, children and small babies.
CARE has scaled up its response to provide food, treatment of acute malnutrition and mobile clinics for women and children.
CARE has launched an appeal of $10 million to provide emergency relief.
CARE has worked in Bangladesh since 1949, and has extensive experience responding to humanitarian disasters. CARE has worked in Cox’s Bazar district, where most refugees have sought shelter, for many years, working in the areas of food security, disaster risk reduction, women’s empowerment and emergency response. In the last five years, CARE Bangladesh has supported more than 450,000 people with life-saving assistance.