ASIA/BANGLADESH - Still no food aid or medical care for undocumented Rohingya

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cox's Bazar (Agenzia Fides) - In the month of August, the Bengali authorities blocked the delivery of humanitarian aid, including medicines and food, by the three NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Action Against Hunger and Muslim Aid UK, regarding refugees Rohingya undocumented, arguing that these services would have further encouraged people to flee towards Bangladesh, where already 40 000 live. Since the NGOs have been stopped, the Muslim population has nothing to eat, children do not have the necessary medical care. According to the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), in Bangladesh there are over 200 000 Rohingyas, of whom only 30 000 are in possession of identity documents and are living in camps assisted by NGOs. Of these, about 12,000 live in the camp of Kutupalong, district of Cox's Bazar, some 18 000 in the south, in Nayapara, both 2 km from Myanmar. The World Food Programme (WFP) provide them food rations, shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation services, professional formation and supplementary food for malnourished people.
Many Rohingyas were left illegal after UNHCR did not allow to register new arrivals since mid-1992. Only those who have identification documents receive regular care, while those who do not have them depend mainly on international NGOs that until recently were authorized to work in the area. Prior to the ban of the government, the conditions in makeshift camps set up were among the worst in the world, according to doctors who deal with human rights. Most people outside of the camp of Kutupalong live in dilapidated huts, made of branches and plastic sheeting, without food aid, close to open sewers. According to MSF, 27% of refugees living in the Kutupalong camp, home to 20,000 illegal refugees, are suffering from acute malnutrition. Government figures show 200-500 thousand Rohingya illegal immigrants who live in villages and cities outside of the camps, many in Cox's Bazar, Bandarban and Chittagong. UNHCR has repeatedly appealed to Dhaka to eliminate the ban for NGOs, but the situation is still the same and remains dramatic. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 18/12/2012)