Almost each day these days, I wake up and make my way to the makeshift camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, the site of the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis of recent times. Life in these settlements is brutal- I see the struggles of the women, men and children who have recently arrived, most exhausted and traumatised.
Deep inside the chaotic makeshift settlements of Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, is a spacious, shaded, colourful place. A bamboo structure with handmade decorations hanging from the walls. Curious onlookers gather outside the thatched windows, attracted by the rhythm.
When a population the size of Luxembourg moves to an area less than 1% the size of where it came from, in a matter of weeks, with no water, sanitation or hygiene facilities, an outbreak of a life-threatening disease turns from a terrifying possibility into a very real threat.
On a quiet Wednesday afternoon in early August, Dhaka’s Tejgaon fire station got a call from Beltola, a crowded part of Korail slum. An electric wire was sparking and nearby houses were starting to catch on fire.
An estimated 507,000 people are now living on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and more than half of them are children. Most of them have arrived with zero possessions, apart from the clothes they wore while making the long and dangerous journey.
The Government of Bangladesh has opened its doors to close to half a million people from the Rakhine state of Myanmar in the last four weeks. Now comes the difficult part — managing the crisis inside Bangladesh.
From the congested, waterlogged streets of Dhaka to flooded farmlands across the country, Bangladesh has enough problems right here. What is the point in looking to the sky when all it brings is rain? Why on earth are we trying to get to space?
The resilience of Bangladeshis is again being tested. Over 685,000 families across 16 districts have been affected by the recent flooding. Government sources say that 60 people have died, over 1,000 schools have been affected and 15,000 people have lost their homes due to river erosion. Women have to carry drinking water from miles away, despite having water all around them.