Streams of Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh 'destitute and traumatised': MSF

Streams of Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh 'destitute and traumatised': MSF
One of the largest influxes ever of Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh has forced Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to upscale provision of medical care to wounded and malnourished Myanmar refugees.
3 min read
07 September, 2017
Some rights groups have described the events in Rakhine as 'genocide' [Getty]
Tens of thousands of Rohinhya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh are in urgent need of medical and humanitarian care an already dire situation along the border with Myanmar worsens, Doctors Without Borders said.

By September 6, more than 146,000 people had crossed into Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

This figure, coming on top of 75,000 people who have arrived since violence began in October 2016, represents one of the largest influxes ever of Rohingyas into Bangladesh.

The majority of the new arrivals are now staying in existing makeshift settlements or UN-registered camps, in three new makeshift camps that have emerged, or among the host community.

Many refugees are stranded in no-man's land between the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Even prior to the most recent influx, many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh lived in unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic conditions with little protection from the elements.
Without a scale-up of humanitarian support, the potential health risks are extremely concerning.

"We've not had something on this scale here in many years," said Pavlo Kolovos, the organisation's head of mission in Bangladesh.

"Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatised, and who have had no access to medical care.

"Many of the arrivals have serious medical needs, such as violence-related injuries, severely infected wounds, and advanced obstetric complications. Without a scale-up of humanitarian support, the potential health risks are extremely concerning."

To accommodate the increase in patients, additional nurses, midwives and doctors have been brought in to help respond, and Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres, has set up a second inpatient ward at one of its two existing clinics in the Kutupalong area in Cox's Bazar district.

MSF also is helping manage the increase of referrals to other hospitals and is providing round-the-clock ambulances to transport patients.

Two new mobile medical teams are assessing medical needs and treating the injured. MSF is also distributing essential items to the new arrivals.

"We are alarmed that hundreds of thousands of people still living in Myanmar have no access to healthcare and that there are no actors currently able or allowed to respond on the ground," said Kolovos.

"As vaccination levels in Myanmar's Northern Rakhine State are very low, one of the first priorities should be a scale-up of vaccination campaigns against measles and other diseases for new arrivals. More efforts are also needed to tackle high levels of malnutrition among the Rohingyas already in Bangladesh preceding this influx, as well as those still in Rakhine state."

Although there have now been limited distributions of food, some refugees have only received dry biscuit rations and access to clean drinking water is a concern.

"I was given seven sachets of biscuits to feed my children when I arrived. That's all they have eaten," said a father of four who arrived three days ago.

"We're currently staying in a school with my family but the school committee said we have to leave tomorrow. I don't know where we will go."