The COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis on top of a crisis in Cox’s Bazar, where almost a million people from the Rohingya community reside in makeshift camps. Here is a snapshot of how BRAC has been supporting the Rohingya and host communities in the region during the pandemic.
Humanitarian workers arriving from prior deployments such as Iraq, Lebanon, Damascus or Sudan share that they have never witnessed a crisis of such scale. When looking beyond the horizon of unending tarpaulin rooftops held up by bamboo sticks, across a hilly terrain; it seems like a miracle that a staggering 866,000 people have been living in 5,800 acres of makeshift settlements since August 2017.
10-year-old Harisa describes how she and her family escaped from their home in Myanmar and crossed the border into Bangladesh. She is one of almost a million Rohingyas living in the makeshift settlements in Cox's Bazar- all of whom experienced similar trauma.
Let us take the recent Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh- dubbed as the world’s fastest growing humanitarian crisis- as a case to see why and how BRAC can be a model for the localisation in humanitarian response.
A woman’s handbag seemingly contains a world of mystery. Her phone, keys, wallet, some tissue to wipe the nose, a sanitary pad just in case, maybe sunglasses, and receipts from the supermarket. But what does one carry in a crisis?
People stretched as far as I could see. Young, old and every age in between, all standing in lines for hours to receive food. What most shocked me was the number of children. There were just so many of them. So many hungry eyes.
A diphtheria outbreak in the Rohingya makeshift settlements has killed 20 people as of December 17, 2017. With 1,500 suspected cases, the number is growing. The 656,000 Rohingya people who sleep every night without electricity, dream in the colours of recent trauma and wake up to uncertainty, cannot afford to be hurt further.
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.