One year on from the latest influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar, the settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh are sheltering nearly a million people. 500,000 are children. Our goal for 2019 is to ensure access to education for 100,000 children.
Some said the children would die if they were given diphtheria vaccination. Some said they would become Christians if they took the shot. Others said women are not allowed to go out with their children for vaccinations, while some feared they would be reborn as a non-Muslim if they died after being vaccinated.
Nearly a million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar. More than half of them are women and children- most of whom suffered unimaginable trauma. They have witnessed parents, siblings and neighbours being tortured and killed. Many have suffered sexual abuse.
Preventative measures are alarmingly necessary. Malnutrition has been flagged at acute emergency levels. Any outbreak of disease in the settlements would quickly claim the lives of thousands of malnourished children.
To close the month of Ramadan we got paints out in two of our child friendly spaces in Cox's Bazar. One space was in Ukhia (one of the host communities) and the other space was in Kutupalong Extension Settlement. This is what happiness looks like at Eid for them.
In 2016, TB claimed the lives of 1.3 million people across the world. Four million cases of TB have been undocumented or not reported. One of the bizarre features of TB is that it remains inactive, producing no symptoms, for long periods of time.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, Noor had a clear understanding of what family planning is, and her husband was supportive of it - she had delivered her daughter with the help of a midwife at that very same health facility. She was encouraged to have her child here by a Rohingya traditional birth attendant– a volunteer in BRAC’s health team.
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.