What You Need to Know About the Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Noor, a young mom, gave birth on the run. A month later, her malnourished body cannot produce milk to feed her baby. Every day Abu, her baby, grows weaker. She tries to crush rice and mix it with water, but it’s not enough. Her other five children run around and drink from contaminated ponds. If Noor isn’t eating, her children aren’t either. 

Banu and her two children sleep in the town’s chicken coop, cramped between 30 other refugees. With no money to buy shelter materials, they have no other option. Banu’s one year-old is sick, but she cannot buy the medicine he needs.

rohingya refugee crisis camp
A refugee camp with makeshift shelters for families                                                          Photo courtesy of Medair

Conditions in the Rohingya refugee camps are dismal, with hundreds of thousands in need of help.  Families are without the necessities to live, with thousands more flooding in each day.

We are doing what we can for the Rohingya, but without increasing help from the international community, this is now the largest refugee crisis in the world.

World Concern is responding, but needs support in order to reach the Rohingya refugees in greatest need.

What is the Rohingya Refugee Crisis?

An ethnic group of about 1 million, the Rohingya people have lived in the Rakhine state of Myanmar for centuries.

Over the past few decades, the Rohingya began to suffer increasing persecution and violence. Without the ability to own land and seen as “illegal,” the Rohingya have little to no rights in Myanmar. At the end of August the violence escalated after a police and army base were attacked. Violence ensued, and families fled their homes in search of safety.

This mass exodus creates an enormous problem, as Bangladesh does not have enough support or resources to help this many people.

What’s Happening in the Rohingya Refugee Camps?

Lala is very thin, and very pregnant. Standing under three sticks of bamboo held together with twine, a team member asked, “When was the last time you had something to eat?” She responded, “Someone gave me a biscuit 24 hours ago.”

rohingya refugee mother in a camp
A Rohingya refugee mother with her starving baby                       Photo courtesy of Medair

Forced to flee with barely their lives, families have nothing. No food, clothes, shelter, or the ability to take care of themselves.

Temporary hospitals overflow with refugees suffering diarrhea, skin diseases, and gruesome wounds suffered during their escape.  Latrines are rare, adding to the already high risk of spreading deadly diseases. Families drink, wash, and bathe in ravines flowing with polluted water. Reports of trauma and shock are common, most all refugees having lost a family member or friend to violence.

“Three weeks ago, I had a husband and four children. Today, I have two children . . . my husband was decapitated. My house was burnt to the ground. While fleeing, I lost two of my children. I say I lost them because suddenly they were nowhere to be seen. I do not know if they are dead or alive.” – Selima, age 27.

rohingya refugee family
Selima and one of her surviving children                                     Photo courtesy of Medair

It’s difficult to reach families that live deep within the camps to provide emergency services and healthcare. With the sudden rush of refugees, official camps were not enough to house everyone, so makeshift camps sprung up along the border. The lack of planning, overcrowding, and poor hygiene make for a despairing situation for families in the camps.

Currently, the greatest needs in the camps on the Bangladesh – Myanmar border are:

  • Clean water and food
  • Sanitation
  • Permanent shelters
  • Safety for women

What is World Concern Doing in Bangladesh?

The World Concern team and our partners are providing hygiene kits and shelter materials to newly displaced families. As we’re able, we’ll reach more families and meet additional critical needs.

It is our mission to go to the hardest places, to serve the most marginalized populations, and to reach those who have yet to be reached. Rohingya refugee mothers and children are waiting, their hope and strength fading, for someone to come to their rescue.

If you would like to be part of the solution for Rohingya families, visit the World Concern website to learn more and give to the Rohingya refugee crisis.