Arshia’s story: "A plastic container kept me afloat"
Mum-of-two Arshia is one of more than one million who have crossed the border from neighbouring Myanmar since August 2017. This is her story.
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Between Brexit Border tensions and dangerously undiplomatic stateside tweeting, our media has been dominated by threatened political crises over the past months. Meanwhile, one very real human crisis has been silently slipping off the agenda – the plight of the Rohingya people in Bangladesh.
Whether the world is watching or not, the Rohingya crisis is one that tragically rages on. As of 3 December, an estimated 626,000 Rohingya refugees had fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Almost 8,000 of these have been identified as unaccompanied or separated children.
These hundreds of thousands of people are not flat statistics. They are human beings who need to live, eat, sleep and meet mental and physical health needs. The vast majority have found temporary shelter in the densely populated camps of Cox’s Bazar, leading to severe congestion and major health concerns. According to ACAPS, a leading organisation on global crisis data, the hygiene, nutrition, and health situation for Rohingya is poor. The ongoing measles outbreak and high malnutrition rates are leaving children particularly vulnerable. Additionally, many of the refugees are living with the deep trauma of rape and torture, and psychosocial support needs are naturally significant.
The cyclone season will hit between April and June next year and the humanitarian community is rushing to ensure that the Rohingya people are not left exposed – ACAPS notes that existing shelters are unable to withstand cyclones.
Concern has been working with partners, the armed forces and local administration to identify those most in need of emergency hygiene kits, sleeping mats, blankets and household items. We will begin delivery to 5,000 families in three camps in the coming weeks.
With fears of malnutrition rising, our team has set up four nutrition centres and has been working flat out to screen children and rush those suffering from malnutrition through to treatment. So far, we have screened over 35,000 children, and referred 2,500 for severe acute malnutrition treatment, and almost 9,000 for medium acute malnutrition. We have also counselled over 10,000 pregnant women and new mothers in infant feeding practices to empower them to prevent malnutrition where possible.
The weeks have now turned into months since the Rohingya crisis began. Over 600,000 people find themselves in emergency accommodation far from home, many living through deep trauma. There will be no quick solution for them but our team on the ground aims to ensure that the basic needs of the most vulnerable are met and child malnutrition is identified and treated.