Friday December 15, 2017
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Lack of Toilets, Clean Drinking Water Pose Cholera Threat in Rohingya Refugee Camps

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Toilet in Rohingya refugee camp
A new toilet recently installed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. voa

Standing next to newly erected tents clustered on a hillside, Abdul Malek explains one of the biggest problems faced in Rohingya Refugee Camps, the more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar for the relative safety of Bangladesh.

Finding a bathroom

Rohingya children collect drinkable water at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh. voa

“Until three days ago, we faced many difficulties with the toilet,” said Malek, a Rohingya man from Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, where fighting erupted on Aug.25 when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked security forces, prompting an exodus over the border that a top United Nations Human Rights official called a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

By “many difficulties,” Malek meant there was no toilet, and answering nature’s call involved wandering down into a field below. In the past week, however, a new latrine was installed by the U.N. refugee agency.

Though the toilet serves the needs of hundreds of people, creating long lines in the morning, it’s better than nothing.

Waterborne Diseases

As Rohingya continue to pour into refugee camps and whatever open land can be found in Cox’s Bazar district in southern Bangladesh, fears of waterborne diseases such as cholera, which can spread through contaminated drinking sources, are growing by the day.

The problem is compounded because the camps and new settlements are heavily congested areas with large numbers of children who have weakened immune systems.

To help combat a potential health emergency in Rohingya Refugee Camps, aid groups are hurriedly installing thousands of tube wells for clean drinking water and as many latrines as they can.

Asif Saleh, a senior director with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC, said it was targeting installation of 15,000 latrines by Oct. 15 in Rohingya Refugee Camps.

He said building temporary facilities that may last only a month was more important than constructing permanent structures, as the current settlements themselves are not permanent. So far it has set up 4,600 latrines.

Health concerns

Shuna Miya cries over bodies of his daughters, before their bodies are taken for the funeral just behind Inani Beach near Cox’s Bazar. voa

Cholera has not been detected yet in Rohingya Refugee Camps, but there are other worrisome signs regarding sanitation-related health problems.

The number of patients visiting BRAC’s mobile clinics with diarrhoea and dysentery has risen from two percent to almost 20 percent, Saleh said.

Vivian Tan, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in an email that to date the organization and its partners have installed 500 latrines serving some 25,000 people, mainly in the now-extended section of the Kutupalong camp. UNHCR has also installed tube wells providing nearly 37,000 refugees with access to clean water.

An additional safeguard for controlling the spread of cholera is vaccination.

With support from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health rolled out an ambitious oral cholera vaccination campaign on Tuesday at many of the Rohingya Refugee Camps sites in the Cox’s Bazar sub-districts of Ukhia and Tekhnaf.

According to UNICEF spokesperson Jean-Jacques Simon, 900,000 doses of the vaccine are in the process of being delivered by mobile teams, and the drive represents the second-largest oral cholera vaccination campaign ever, the first being in Haiti last year.

The initial phase of the vaccination campaign will target more than 650,000 people aged one year and older, while the second part will begin at the end of this month and aim to cover some 250,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5.

For Malek and his neighbors, the installation of the new latrine helped, but not everyone is using it. He explained that the families living in tents surrounding the toilet had recently decided that it would be for women only because they need more privacy.

When asked where men go, he gestured towards the hills and fields.

“We’re men, we can go anywhere,” he said.(voa)

Next Story

‘No Choice But to Accept’: Myanmar Hindus Face Forced Conversion In Refugee Camps

Hindu ladies who are living there told that they are being asked to remove sindoor and break their bangles. A large number of ladies are allegedly compelled to surrender their Hindu customs.

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Refugee camps near Cox's Bazar.
Refugee camps near Cox's Bazar. wikimedia
  • The article is based on the facts and data published by dailymail India, on Myanmar Hindus.

Myanmar Hindus who fled to Bangladesh border seeking refuge are now facing new troubles in the Relief Camps.

Reportedly, some organizations are forcing conversion on Hindus living in the Refugee Camps in Bangladesh. Most of the victims are helpless women and the young girls of Hindu community who have no choice but to accept, to survive in the immediate situation.

The Relief Camps are situated in Cox’s Bazar, a Muslim majority area situated at the border of Bangladesh.

Myanmar Hindu women forced to Convert

Hindu ladies who are living there told that they are being asked to remove sindoor (a customary vermilion red powder worn by married women) and break their bangles. A large number of ladies are allegedly compelled to surrender their Hindu customs and read namaz (Muslim prayer) 5 times each day.

One such woman is Puja Mullick who was forced to convert a month ago. She has experienced torture for about three weeks, Now she is known as Rabia.

Another woman Rica Dhar alias Sadia narrating the August incidence told ‘they entered all the Hindu residences and attacked. First, the mobile phones were taken away and then men were tied and beaten brutally. My husband worked as a goldsmith’.

‘They took away all my jewellery and began beating me. All Hindus were identified and taken to a nearby hill. They were then killed in a row. Only eight women were allowed to stay among them… mostly young and beautiful’.

Puja Mullick (alias Rabia) in red saree and Rica Dhar(alias Sadia) with her baby.
Puja Mullick (alias Rabia) in red saree and Rica Dhar(alias Sadia) with her baby. dailymail

Puja is originally a Hindu who was seeking shelter after the situation worsened in Myanmar. Be that as it may, conditions flipped around her life.

lost her husband in the attack which took place in the last week of August, probably around the time when the conflict grew.

She told that her husband was not killed by the armed forces, it was a group of men clad in black, whose faces were hidden, possibly she meant the Radical Islamists.

Role of Local Authorities

Around 500 Myanmar Hindus have been driven out from their own houses. They have entered into Bangladeshi territory and are scattered in different parts of this district.

As per the dailymail, when Bangladesh officials were asked about the issue of forced conversion, they gave assurance to investigate the matter and give punish whosoever is behind all this.

Myanmar hindu camps at Bangladesh border.
Myanmar hindu camps at Bangladesh border.

Though all the refugees are living in different camps among their religion or community, even then also the conditions are tough.

One cannot guess what has been happening to those Myanmar Hindus who have been suffering it since past few months.

Is it bad to talk about Hindus in this country?

There is an open discussion on every subject in India then, why is this issue being cornered?

Indian media and political leaders debate about other religions all day, but when it comes to talking about Hindus, no one is interested.

What is the future of Myanmar Hindus? It has become very important to talk about this subject.

The elite media houses are only exposed to certain issues only, they have already sold themselves to different ideologies, that is why they do not give any coverage to Myanmar Hindu issue.

As a mindful individual, everyone should come forward and raise their voice against the torture and injustice done to Myanmar Hindus.