More than 604,000 Rohingya people, the majority of them children and women, have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar. Plan International’s emergency response teams are now on the ground implementing water, sanitation and hygiene and child protection projects.
Every day we watch the news on television, read stories in the newspapers and see photographs on our social media accounts about the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh. But, it is often hard to see behind the headlines and learn more what is actually happening on the ground and meet the people who are working tirelessly to respond this humanitarian emergency.
Plan International is working together with local partners, VERC and SARPV to respond to the crisis and has drawn on its emergency roster of experienced disaster risk management staff members from both national and international offices.
As part of its WASH activities, Plan International is aiming to assist 60,000 refugees. The organisation is targeting the specific needs of girls and young women through activities such as menstrual hygiene management.
“We are distributing 10,000 dignity kits to adolescent girls and young women which include menstrual hygiene management items,” says WASH specialist Moniruzzaman.
Lack of sanitation is another major concern for the displaced Rohingya people. In many places, one latrine is being used by 150 people. The situation is even more challenging for girls and women.
“In Balukhali settlement, we are working to provide toilet and washing facilities to 10,000 households over the period of next two months”, explain Jahanara and Josna, who are both WASH facilitators from our partner organization VERC.
WASH Facilitator Jahanara chats to women in Balukhali settlement.
“With the support of the community, we are locating where toilets are most needed, distributing hygiene kits and conducting hygiene and menstrual hygiene management training sessions. We also show women and girls how to use the hygiene kits and teach them how to keep the toilets clean through interactive participation,” Jahanara says about their work.
“I want people to benefit from our interventions and lead hygienic lives,” says Josna before she dashes off to visit another family in the camp.
“We are working round the clock to provide technical support to our partners and community volunteers, building their capacity to implement hygiene sessions, select the best toilet sites and have vital waste management know-how. We monitor and following-up latrine sites to make them more children and women-friendly and ensure the availability of water sources for camp residents,” says WASH specialist Azam.
Plan International is also extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all children caught up in this crisis and is working to implement protection mechanisms for new arrivals.
Children pump water from newly installed tube well in Balikhali camp, Cox’s Bazar.
Orla Murphy, Plan International’s Country Director in Bangladesh, explains: “We are working with the Government of Bangladesh and UNICEF to register unaccompanied children, but there is a huge funding gap that needs to be filled.
“We need to act swiftly to ensure there is enough capacity to deal with the already high numbers of vulnerable children in the camps and to ensure that the rapid increase in the numbers of children arriving does not overstretch the limited services that are currently available.”
Our emergency response team and partners in Balukhali camp are striving to deliver support to those who need it most. However, demand is increasing each day.
The majority of new arrivals to the camp are children and women – many of them pregnant or nursing infants. They arrive in desperate conditions with no shelter or sanitation facilities and very little food or water. The threat of disease looms over the community.
Women, children and families need the support of the international community. You can make a difference in the Rohingya peoples’ lives today.