November 17, 2022
Environmental Health Risks in the Philippines
An estimated 10,000 people were killed in the violence, with thousands more injured and sexually assaulted. The attacks prompted 700,000 people to flee Myanmar across the border into Bangladesh to seek safety. The Rohingya refugees started living in makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazaar and, almost two years later, thousands of people still reside in these camps.
Doctors of the World has been active in Bangladesh since 2017, working alongside local organizations to provide access to healthcare and psychosocial support in the camps.
Doctors of the World’s activities currently reach an estimated 2,177 households in the Kutupalong refugee camp.
Our team also trains young adults from the Rohingya community to take part in community outreach and health awareness projects. These young adults specifically focus on connecting children and teenagers in need to vital health services.
We also work on providing information to the community on a variety of health issues such as the importance of vaccination, how infectious diseases are transmitted, family planning, pregnancy, childbirth, and disaster preparedness.
Our project also has a significant focus on mental health support. Many of the Rohingya residing in Bangladesh have experienced or witnessed extreme violence and are coping with serious mental health consequences such as emotional trauma and PTSD.
They are also struggling with the chronic stress of living in the camps for prolonged periods of time. For many, it is unclear when or even if, they will be able to return to their homes in Myanmar and repatriation negotiations continue to stall.
Around 30% of the Rohingya community are children under 5, and dozens of babies are born every day in camps that are still dangerous and unhygienic.
We spoke with Ms. Kwihyang Ku, the Project Coordinator for our Bangladesh project about the conditions in the camps.
“For many Rohingya, this is a place of relief that is protected from violence, however they cannot escape from the aftereffects of the violence and trauma they witnessed in Myanmar. Even in this physically distant land, the persecution they underwent in Myanmar is still very present in their memory.
About 60 babies are born every day, but most refugees cannot conceive of a future for their families. As negotiations continue, their anxiety grows. Yet, they keep smiling and keep kindness in their heart, and that makes us strong.”
Two years after the campaign of violence, the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar are still housing thousands of people in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that are extremely detrimental for their long term health. In addition to living in unsanitary conditions, the future for many families remains unclear, as government’s in Bangladesh and Myanmar continue resettlement negotiations.