Since late August, more than half a million Rohingya people, the majority of them children and women, have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.
The new arrivals in Bangladesh have endured immense hardship fleeing this violence as they have made their perilous journey to Bangladesh. Many have travelled on foot through the jungle, while braving monsoon rains and intense heat.
13-year-old Nurkaida fled to Bangladesh with her mother and three brothers after her father, a farmer, died of a gunshot wound in September 2017.
Speaking about her old life in Myanmar, Nurkaida says, “We had our own house, cattle, a hand pump, a big toilet and I had my own room. My friends used to come round all the time, and we had a big yard where we all played.”
“It’s so different here. The tent is small, water is very scarce, there are no toilets and it is hard with so little food. I only have one set of clothes and everything becomes wet during the day because it’s always raining.”
Thousands of people like Nurkaida and her family are camping in the open with little or no shelter on muddy hillsides in Cox’s Bazar. They have no access to clean water or toilets. The high concentration of displaced people living with almost no basic amenities poses a serious risk on many levels, including increased spread of disease and heightened likelihood of child protection issues like human trafficking, sexual abuse, child labour and child marriage.
14-year-old Rahana fled Myanmar with her family after their house was burned down. She is concerned by the fact that there is only one latrine in the area where she’s living. “Mostly it is men that go there,” she says, “and we can see a long queue in the morning. It is the only public toilet and all are unknown faces, so we try to wait until nighttime to relieve ourselves in the jungle.”
“We only eat one meal a day so that we don’t need to use the toilet so often, but it is hard on my younger siblings because they get so hungry that they cry.”
Plan International has launched a humanitarian response in Bangladesh to support the Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar, with an initial response focused on reuniting children with their families, and addressing the desperate need for sanitation and hygiene facilities. Through this response, more than 700 latrines will be installed, benefiting 35,000 people.
Support Plan International Canada’s Emergency Relief Fund, which helps us to respond quickly to urgent emergencies like the Rohingya crisis and others like it around the world.