Help Rohingya children stay warm this winter
Bangladesh, despite its recent advances in growth, is a country subject to ongoing political upheaval and frequent natural disasters. It is still one of the poorest countries in the world and, according to UN statistics, over 75% of its 160 million population live on less than 2 US$ a day.
One of the most precarious groups currently living in Bangladesh are the refugee Rohingya people who have been forced out from their homeland in neighboring Burma.
Stripped of their citizenship by the Burmese government in 1982 and forced to flee by violent military campaigns and sustained persecution since at least the 1940s, over one million Rohingya live in exile.
The Rohingya are the only ethnic group in Burma that faces restriction laws on marriage and traveling beyond their village. They are also prevented from building or maintaining religious structures.
The UNHCR describes the Rohingya as the most persecuted people on earth.
Current Humanitarian Situation
At present, over 230,000 Rohingya refugees reside in Bangladesh’s South Eastern region, known as Cox’s Bazar.
Of this number there are just over 30,000 registered refugees, assisted by the UNHCR and other NGOs, living in 2 camps called Kutupalong and Nayapara. The remaining 200,000 refugees are undocumented, without any legal status, and reside in unofficial camps.
Denied government support and not legally permitted to work, or receive medical care or education the plight of the Rohingya is increasingly desperate.
Life in the overcrowded camps is extremely hard. The squalid temporary shelters are poorly made from plastic sheeting covered in leaves and branches, which provide little relief from the blazing sun during summer or the freezing temperatures in Winter. In 2012 Bangladesh suffered its lowest temperatures for over 40 years, with many deaths recorded across the country.
Camp-dwellers are also at risk from serious diseases. Easily preventable infections such as the intestinal worm infection (also known as tapeworm) flourish due to inadequate sanitation, dirty water and poor hygiene. In March 2013, many 5-7 year-old children were sick with chicken pox, measles, pneumonia and other fevers.
In addition the malnutrition rates are alarmingly high, and many of the camp-dwellers are vulnerable to both physical and sexual abuse.
Despite the difficult conditions experienced by the Rohingya simple measures can help reduce their suffering.
As part of the ‘Help Rohingya children stay warm this Winter’ campaign, ChildrenPlus is aiming to provide 10,000 desperately needed blankets and pairs of sandals for Rohingya children.
How You Can Help
A simple donation of just £5 to ChildrenPlus will buy a blanket and a pair of sandals, helping protect children from the cold and diseases.