UNITED NATIONS, Sept 30 (APP): The latest estimate of the number of
persecuted Rohingya Muslims who have arrived in neighbouring Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar crossed the half-million mark, at 501,000 as of Friday, according to the UN refugee agency.
Spokesperson for the Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic told reporters at a regular press briefing in Geneva that they have started distributing plastic sheeting and essential relief items to Rohingyas arriving in from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh, as part of a massive effort to cut the time refugees spend in the open.
“Giving the newly arrived refugees the ability to construct their own
shelter, begin cooking for themselves and taking care of their families is an important first step on the road to healing,” he added.
The 2,000-acre (809 hectare) extension site on the outskirts of
Kutupalong Camp in southeast Bangladesh is becoming more organized, turning into a series of communities as UNHCR and its partners supporting the Bangladesh Government deliver more emergency relief items.
From its $4.2 million budget, UNHCR is contributing $2 million to
support Bangladesh in constructing a road for easier aid delivery into Kutupalong extension site and shipping in 23 vehicles to assist aid efforts.
UNHCR nutrition experts estimate that approximately 18 percent of new
arrivals suffer from acute malnutrition.
“This is due to more than lack of food,” Mahecic said.”We witness dire need for psycho-social support and counselling among refugees,” he said adding that many breastfeeding mothers are severely traumatised, sick and malnourished.”
UNHCR said it is working with its partner Action Against Hunger to
provide warm meals as private donors conduct ad hoc food distributions, which is also becoming more structured.
“As Bangladesh shoulders the full extent of this refugee crisis, UNHCR
calls on all countries in the region to show solidarity and do their part in keeping their borders open and protecting refugees who are fleeing discrimination, persecution and violence in Myanmar,” Mahecic added.
Meanwhile, more tragic details have emerged about yesterday’s reports
that Rohingya refugees died when the boat they were using to reach safety in Bangladesh capsized in the Bay of Benga’s rough seas.
An International Organization for Migration (IOM) local field team
travelled to the scene to assist survivors and assess any further response needed. Today, they report that, having checked with police and the owner of a grocery shop located close to where the incident occurred, the total confirmed dead is now 23.