Nov 13, 2017
I just returned from a visit to the Rohingya camp in Unchiprang, Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
Since August 25, 2017, Myanmar has pushed out more than 613,000 of its own population living in the Rakhine state, a bordering province with Bangladesh. The world has witnessed the horrendous acts of cruelty, murder, rape, ruthless killing of babies and adults, and torture. I have interviewed many survivors now living in camps and heard their horror stories. Reports your read and heard are real and sad. Global relief agencies and local public responded with massive support providing food, shelters, medical services, and daily necessities. But the need is massive. The Bangladesh army is doing a commendable job by ensuring discipline, safety and security. The camps stretch over an area of 3000 acres of land bordering Myanmar.
Here is a map from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s website.
They have hired over 1000 staff and built the largest medical facility in the camps.
We worked in Naikongchori’s Sapmara, Jhiri, Thumru. Now we are in Unchiprang’s Putbania camps. This camp has approximately 5000 families with 27,000 members There are 8 camp sites, each is divided in 5 units, each unit has a Rohinya leader called Majhi.
We distributed 4,500 blankets (high -medium quality), and have achieved our blanket goals, so that each family now has more than one blankets. We added 15 sanitary toilets (14 to 18 feet deep with recommended numbers of concrete rings), distributed 1,000 Mosquito nets (many more are needed), gave 100 kerogas (kerosene converted into gas) burners (which prevented cutting of trees for firewood). At the beginning we distributed 650 food packages (17 tons of food, each package included 15 different items including rice, dal etc.), served cooked food to 3,000 people (eggs, chicken, rice) and 4,500 children (beef, potatoes and rice). Foods are distributed in rotation by different agencies. We had two rotations only, because of limited funds). Rohingya camps also get food rations from the Army warehouse, No one is hungry. We run a school for small children teaching Burmese and English.( Bangladesh Government does not want us teach Bengali as they hopefully go back to their own country.)
All volunteers and aid workers for their heroic jobs deserve our grateful thanks.
I need to say that about 10 to 15 percent of the funds and resources are wasted due to misappropriation and/or corruptions and inefficient operations by local NGO’s and private agencies. Good management controls and outcome measurements systems for emergency relief work are needed to minimize these types of losses.
The urgent needs now are (based on my observations and interviews):
- Clothes: I saw that there is an urgent need for regular clothes and winter clothes for girls (ages 10-14) and younger children. Older women and men did not ask for any clothes. Perhaps they were shy. The girls requested new clothes. So, do not collect old clothes. Most of these children are coming from wealthier families.
- Special bathroom and toilets for women- at present there is none
- Additional kerogas burners
- Mosquito nets
- Acute shortage of water: Most shallow tube wells dug earlier do not supply water anymore. SIDA (Swedish) has agreed to provide $10 million to Bangladesh Government for a comprehensive plan of water supply in all camps through deep tube wells and supply lines based on the plan drawn the Bangladesh Water Modelling Institute (BWI). Well done Bangladeshi ground water experts!
Our sixth phase includes items 1 and 2 from above. We have funds for regular and winter clothes for 300 children and three Bathrooms for women only. On the average each set of clothes (salwar and kameez) costs $10 and one women’s bathroom will cost $185.
Over all, the camps are well run, clean, disciplined, no visible signs of waste materials and garbage. I did not meet anyone with commonly communicable diseases like Diarrhea, cold and fever. Excellent jobs done by the Government docs and visiting medical units.
Thank you all for your generous financial supports. In case there is any questions, I personally paid all my travel and hotel expenses and also made generous contributions.