ABU DHABI, 1st April, 2018 (WAM) — With relief agencies in Bangladesh struggling to assist more than a million vulnerable Rohingya Muslims crowded into makeshift camps along the country’s south-east coast, the health needs of the refugees are a major cause for concern, a UAE newspaper has said.
“The situation is especially challenging because the Rohingya population has settled in an area prone to cyclones, and on terrain that will be flooded as soon as rain begins,” said The Gulf Today in an editorial on Sunday.
“The risk of outbreak of life-threatening water and vector- borne diseases under such conditions is too huge,” added the editorial comment.
The paper quoted Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Regional Director, as saying, “This is certainly one of the biggest humanitarian crises in recent times.”
“Problems do not seem to cease for the world’s most persecuted community. They have been persecuted in Rakhine for generations and fear the cycle of violence that has driven them into Bangladesh could repeat. The refugees have experienced targeted violence, human rights abuses and horrific journeys,” it said.
The paper went on to say, “Since August 2017, nearly 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar across the border into Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, joining several hundred thousand more than were already settled there in overcrowded camps.
“Myanmar has neither made the necessary safeguards for the Rohingya to return nor has it eased tight restrictions on access for aid agencies, media and other independent observers.
“To ensure the right of refugees to return voluntarily, and in safety and dignity, Myanmar should allow the necessary unhindered humanitarian access in Rakhine State and create conditions for a lasting solution.
“It should not be forgotten that the vulnerable refugee population will need continued services for maternal and child health, communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as psychosocial support.
“The humanitarian response faces immense challenges, including congested conditions, gender-based violence and critical public health concerns, namely measles, diphtheria and diarrhoea.”
“The international community should show solidarity and share the responsibility to ensure that the refugees tide over the huge challenges posed by potential floods and landslides,” concluded the Sharjah-based daily.