Press release of 18. Mai 2018

Further disasters could hit the persecuted Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh!

Roughly 700,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled their homes for neighbouring Bangladesh after violent attacks by the Burmese military in August 2017. A return to Myanmar is unthinkable at present. Besides, the heavy summer monsoon rains are imminent, and could cause flooding and landslides in the refugee camps. Since September 2017, HEKS/EPER has been providing emergency aid to the Jamtoli refugee camp, in cooperation with its partner organization Christian Aid (CA). The project is also being supported by Swiss Solidarity.

Den Rohingya in den Flüchtlingscamps in Bangladesch droht eine Monsun-Katastrophe
ACT/Paul Jeffrey

It is already raining in Bangladesh, but the heavy summer monsoon rains are yet to come. In July alone, the Rohingya can expect their overcrowded refugee camps to receive as much rainfall as does Switzerland in an entire year. Made of plastic sheeting, many of the huts will not be able to keep the refugees dry. «Because huts have been built on most of the land area, the ground will be unable to absorb the large quantities of water. The unpaved footpaths will turn into rivers that will erode the terraced hillsides and at worst cause landslides», says Sebastien Zug, the HEKS officer responsible for the emergency aid project at the Jamtoli refugee camp.

Major health hazard

The heavy rains will create a major health risk for those living in the camps, as many latrines could overflow and cause disease to spread rapidly. The most problematic are the makeshift latrines that were built at the onset of the refugee crisis. Indeed, many newer and better toilets have since been built, but many of the makeshift ones are still in use. «The septic tanks could be flooded or ruptured by erosion, releasing faecal matter into surface water and bringing serious health consequences for the Rohingya», says Sebastien Zug. HEKS/EPER is ensuring that defective toilets are taken out of service and that faecal matter is disposed of professionally before the toilets can be safely used again. A garbage disposal system is also being set up for the entire camp, hygiene training courses are being organized and toilet articles distributed.

Building communal kitchens

HEKS/EPER is also building 52 communal kitchens where 13,000 families will be able to prepare two warm meals for themselves every day. This reduces the risk of fire from open fireplaces and reduces the extensive cutting down of forests around the refugee camp. The communal kitchens also provide safe shelter from the rains.

 

Further information

Interview with Sebastian Zug (Responsible for the HEKS/EPER emergency aid project in Bangladesh)

Further information

Photo material for download

 

HEKS/EPER donation account: 80-1115-1, Please mention «Rohingya Emergency Aid Bangladesh»

 

Dieter Wüthrich
Head of Media and Information Department
Dieter Wüthrich

Phone: +41 44 360 88 66
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70
E-mail: dieter.wuethrich@heks.ch

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