The Rohingya escaped horrific violence. Now they brace for nature’s fury


Since August 25, 2017, the day violence broke out in Myanmar, nearly 700,000 Rohingya — a stateless ethnic minority — have fled to Bangladesh.  After walking for days through jungles and mountains or braving dangerous sea voyages across the Bay of Bengal, they crossed the border hungry, sick and traumatized by violence and sexual abuse.

Although the rate of arrival has slowed from its peak of 10 refugees per minute, the crisis remains severe — and the Rohingya continue to need protection and humanitarian assistance. With generous donor support, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is on the ground providing shelter, food, clean water, vaccinations and more.

Rohingya refugees prepare for the monsoon by building new reinforced shelters with materials supplied by UNHCR.

Bracing for a monsoon

There was little time to plan either the location or construction of emergency shelters when the Rohingya first arrived to Bangladesh. Refugees built makeshift structures from whatever bamboo and sheeting that UNHCR could procure locally — often on landslide- and flood-prone, low-lying land. Now the focus is to save lives before the rainy season starts by helping refugees build sturdier structures and, where possible, relocating families to more stable ground.

Oral cholera vaccines are distributed with the help of volunteers, NGOs and the UN at Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh as authorities move to prevent an outbreak. Purple dye on the finger indicates successful vaccination.

Protecting against disease

The rainy season increases the risk of health threats including diarrhea, hepatitis, malaria, diphtheria and cholera. To keep refugees healthy, UNHCR and its partners have established medical facilities, provided vaccinations and trained community health workers to monitor the vulnerable and connect them to care. Access to hygiene kits, clean water and sanitation prevents outbreaks.

Senoara 12 and Rosina 10 they both go to middle school they are in 5th grade at Kutupalong refugee settlement's Bright Star Primary School.

Providing a brighter future

It is difficult for Rohingya girls to go to school because of social pressures against educating women and the prevalence of child marriage. Across Kutupalong — currently the world’s largest refugee camp — UNHCR operates 11 learning centers and encourages girls to attend. Fifth graders Senoara and Rosina are students at Bright Star Primary School, where they both love English and take classes in Burmese, math, science and social studies.

Here’s how you can help …

The UN Refugee Agency is on the ground working to improve conditions for Rohingya refugees. You can help provide safe, stable shelter and long-term aid. Make an emergency gift today.

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