One Year Anniversary of Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Media Release 20/08/2018
Tearfund Calls for Help on One Year Anniversary of Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Tearfund is calling on Kiwis to help as the Rohingya Refugee Crisis reaches its one year anniversary.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled violence and persecution in their home state of Rakhine, Myanmar since August 25, 2017, crossing the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
The number fleeing during this period made it the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis and has formed the world’s largest refugee camp, with more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, made up of those fleeing since August last year and around 200,000 who had fled previously. The camp dwarfs the world’s former largest refugee camp—Bidibidi, Uganda—which hosts around 270,000.
Helen Manson, a Kiwi mum of three and humanitarian photographer for Tearfund currently visiting the camps, says they are overcrowded, the needs are enormous, and resources are stretched. She says more than four rugby fields of forest were disappearing each day as people collected wood for their daily needs.
But she says it is not only material supplies that are in desperate need.
“After fleeing violence, abuse and witnessing the deaths of loved ones, people are arriving in Bangladesh in urgent need of medical aid, trauma counselling and psychosocial support. Many have injuries caused by gunshots, shrapnel, fire and landmines. Many more have scars we cannot see.”
Exacerbating the situation is the monsoon season which began in May and is expected to peak in September.
“Flooding and landslides combined with the risk of water-borne disease outbreaks means the potential for loss of life is huge in these cramped and make-shift living conditions,” says Manson. “Already there have been a number of landslides which have killed one and injured 34.”
But she says there is hope for the Rohingya people. She says Tearfund isn’t giving up on them and is calling on New Zealanders to help.
“We’re working as hard as we can through our local partner to meet needs, and seeing smiles on children’s faces for the first time in months as they learn and play in the youth clubs gives us hope.
“Kiwis can bring more families hope by helping to deliver medical assistance, support for those with trauma, resources for cooking, and youth clubs for children by donating to Tearfund’s Rohingya Crisis Appeal at tearfund.org.nz or by calling 0800 800 777.”
She says Tearfund also adds its voice in calling on the international community including the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments to work on a long term solution to the situation.
“We urge the Myanmar government to end the violence and discrimination and review their laws and practices to ensure a pathway to citizenship and security for the Rohingya.
“Bangladesh did the right thing in opening up their border and we applaud them for that. We now urge the Bangladesh government to officially recognize the Rohingya as refugees to grant them the full rights of refugees.
“We also acknowledge Bangladesh cannot shoulder this burden alone. It needs the international community to step up and help deliver a sustainable solution for these people.”
The Rohingya are the largest group of stateless people in the world and considered among the most persecuted. Despite living in the region—now the Rakhine district of Myanmar—for centuries, the Rohingya are not one of the 135 recognised ethnic groups in Myanmar, having had their citizenship stripped in 1982 by the Burmese military.
New Zealanders can help deliver urgently needed supplies and support for those who have experienced trauma by donating at tearfund.org.nz or calling 0800 800 777.