The refugee crisis continued unabated and intensified during the pandemic.
The Rohingya people, persecuted in Rakhine State, Myanmar, have been forced to flee their country of birth.
Since August 25, 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya have moved to Bangladesh to live there.
After four years, they are still refugees.
The state of temporary sheltering, the deprivation of nationality, the lack of access to education, the non-freedom of movement and all the rights they have been deprived of, and in the meantime, the days without a vision for the future follow one another.
The fifth year is now underway, it is time to make their voices heard.
*Japanese version only
On August 25, 2021, Rohingya refugees are commemorating their fifth year of fleeing Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh. Due to the more volatility caused by the coup that occurred on February 1st, this year, there is no prospect of returning to Myanmar.
The government of Bangladesh has become more frustrated by the prolonged stay of refugees and is requesting the neighboring countries of the region to cooperate in the Rohingya’s repatriation to Myanmar. In addition, in order to eliminate the congestion of the camp, which is vulnerable to disasters such as landslides and where nearly 900,000 people live, about 20,000 people were transferred to Bhasan Char Island, which is made of silt and is about 60 kilometers off the mainland. It has been planned to relocate the remaining 80,000 people to fill the capacity by the end of this year. In Bhasan Char, support has been provided mainly by local NGOs.
Refugees continue to suffer from disasters. On March 22, 2021, a large fire broke out in the camp, killing several people and forcing some 20,000 to evacuate. On July 27, heavy rains caused floods and landslides, causing great damage. Even in response to such tragedy, the Bangladeshi government has not responded to proposals for changing or strengthening the materials of people’s shelters made of vinyl sheets and bamboo, from the standpoint of not allowing refugees to settle. It has also been pointed out that barbed wire around the camp to restrict the movement of refugees hindered the evacuation of people in the event of the major fire.
Medecins du Monde teams raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes in refugee camps. We also promote interaction between family member supporters of people suffering from/at risk of NCDs and give them advice. We refer patients to clinics when necessary. We are also conducting awareness raising and refer patients and support community clinics in strengthening their diagnosis and treatment in the host community.1
Many people around the world suffer from NCDs, and Rohingya refugees and residents of host communities are no exception. The current situation is that there is still a significant need for increased medical support for NCDs, which are not easily noticeable with slow progress inside the body and without as apparent symptoms as infectious diseases such as COVID-19. But in camps and host communities, like everywhere else, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, so we continue awareness raising on COVID-19 in parallel.
It is now reported that about 82.4 million people, or about 1 percent of the world’s population, are refugees and internally displaced persons.2
With the return and resettlement of refugees slowing around the world, the days of uncertainty for the Rohingya people continually drag on.
In addition to supporting them, we must continue to support the host community, which has generously accepted Rohingya refugees.
We will continue to work with Rohingya and host community residents to help them recognize their own right to physical and mental health and maintain and promote their health.
Rohingya Refugee Community Support Project Coordinator
1 Rohingya Refugee Community Support Project Activity Update 2021-3 “Deliver local health care, not just infectious diseases”
2 UNHCR Flagship Reports Forced Displacement in 2020