Myanmar refugee crisis

Aloma Khatun with her daughter and baby at the CARE-supported child malnutrition clinic in Unchiprang refugee camp

“They came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. They have nowhere else to go.”

Myanmar Refugee Crisis Appeal

Fleeing from violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, more than 600,000 refugees have crossed the border to Bangladesh. These people are destitute – and they desperately need help to meet their basic needs, says CARE’s Zia Choudhury, who is with our emergency team in Cox’s Bazar near the border. He says:

Families are sleeping in fields and on muddy paths. People are in desperate need of clean drinking water, food, medical help and a safe place to sleep.

People giving food to refugees walking along a muddy path
People offering food to a Rohingya refugee family

Working with a local NGO partner, we started immediate relief activities, including distributing food to families in need. We are supporting a health clinic assessing and treating children suffering from acute malnutrition; helping with the coordination and management of refugee camps; and developing programmes to protect and support survivors of gender-based violence.

Families fleeing from violence have arrived with nothing: no shelter, no food, no belongings.

Rohingya refugee family sheltering under a plastic sheet
A refugee family sheltering under a plastic sheet

Huge numbers of people are crowded into makeshift shelters in temporary refugee settlements, in an area already devastated by flooding and with ongoing rains making the situation even worse. CARE’s Zia Choudhury says:

People will need to build more stable shelter as soon as possible. They will need strong tarpaulin, bamboo and rope to remain safe during the rains.

As well as shelter, people badly need health services. Nearly 100,000 refugees including children are currently suffering from fever and diarrhoeal diseases. Children are complaining about cold and skin diseases as well. On top of that, people do not have proper access to sanitation facilities and safe drinking water, which poses a major health risk for refugees. We are also concerned about the risks – particularly for women and girls – of further violence, including gender-based violence.

CARE is hiring more staff and working with local authorities and partners to meet the needs of refugees. But the scale of this crisis means that much more help is needed.

Please donate now so we can bring life-saving help to desperate women, children and families.

A refugee woman with two children arriving in Bangladesh

The crisis in brief

An escalation of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in late August led to vast numbers of people fleeing across the border into Bangladesh in a desperate search for safety. Most of the refugees are women, children and small babies.

More than 600,000 people are staying in host communities, existing refugee camps, new makeshift settlements or camps, or just wherever they can find space.

Most are reliant on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic daily needs. More than 400,000 people require support to meet their food needs, while an estimated 125,000 pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 will need supplementary feeding.

The area they are fleeing to, in southeast Bangladesh, has already been hard hit by the devastating floods that have affected millions of people across South Asia in recent months.

The government of Bangladesh and local authorities are working hard to meet the needs of the refugees. Local Bangladeshi families, with few resources themselves, are taking in the refugees and have been supporting them however they can. CARE is on the ground right now, responding to the emergency.

But the level of need is immense, and more help is urgently needed.

CARE’s response

CARE Bangladesh’s emergency team is working in Cox’s Bazar district, where most refugees have sought shelter. Our team is distributing cooked meals and dry food as well as essential items that families need: candles; matches; clothes; blankets and utensils.

We are distributing the materials people need to build emergency shelters like tarp, bamboo and rope.

We are creating women and adolescent-friendly spaces and providing counselling and a referral service for survivors of gender-based violence.

We are supporting local partners to deliver community-based assessment and treatment of acute malnutrition.

We are assisting with refugee camp management and the coordination of emergency responses in the refugee camps.

Working closely with local authorities and local and international partners we will continue to scale up our response in the areas of food and nutrition, shelter, health, gender-based violence support and protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, and camp management.

As at November 2017, CARE Bangladesh has assisted 134,000 refugees from Myanmar with food and nutrition support; non-food items; sexual, reproductive and maternal health support; and gender-based violence prevention and support.

Please donate and send real help now to refugee families in Bangladesh.

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Rohingya refugees walking through mud
Refugee families struggle through ankle-deep mud as they arrive in Bangladesh