What's The Deal With Myanmar?

It’s the fastest growing refugee crisis on the planet. You may have heard about it?

In August 2017 there was a widespread eruption of violence in Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands of people, most of them from the Rohingya ethnic group, fled for their lives.

Most fled north, over the Bangladesh border where they’ve settled into what are now some of the largest refugee camps in the world. They’re mainly situated around the Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazar. It’s estimated that there are over 900,000 people living in these camps as of August 2018. Many more are still living, displaced within Myanmar.

Many people fled on foot, walking for days on end. Old and young alike took tentative steps towards a border which concluded their persecution. A literal line in the sand.

Yet, upon arrival they’re finding life in the camps extremely challenging.

There’s limited medical facilities and the risk of disease and illness in the squalid environment grows. Food is strictly rationed by the international agencies to ensure there’s enough for everyone. This is all without mentioning the psychological support many refugees might need having witnessed such violence.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing most of this story. With the current state of affairs in domestic politics, the events in Myanmar haven’t broken through our national conversation to the degree they merit. It’s a bleak picture but there is hope.

It’s been over a year now since the Rohingya were forced to flee their homes. A year in which we’ve been working hard to support life in the camps whilst an international solution is pursued.

Since September 2017, we’ve raised just under £9 million through our Rohingya Crisis Appeal. That has meant we've been able to deliver:

  • Healthcare consultations for 138,084 people

  • Blankets for 9,500 families

  • Winter clothing for 67,000 children

  • Supplementary food packages containing rice, lentils, oil, salt and sugar for 10,539 families

  • The establishment of 8 women and child-friendly spaces for safe learning, psycho-social counselling, and awareness sessions.

Since early August 2018 our efforts have remained focussed on monsoon preparedness (April-October). Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  • We’ve given 15,500 Rohingya households shelter upgrade kits and training to strengthen their homes to withstand high winds and heavy rains.

  • We’ve relocated 319 households whose shelters were identified as at risk from flooding or landslides.

  • 508 community volunteers are receiving training in first aid, search and rescue, firefighting, early warning, psycho-social support, and safety.

  • 96% of Jamtoli (one of the camps) residents have received cholera vaccinations (thanks to the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare).

Here’s a little look at the Jamtoli refugee camp from June 2018.

The need is still great. There’s not yet an international consensus on what to do with these refugees, which is why we’re still there and still responding to the basic, humanitarian need.

A thousand thanks to those who’ve supported this work so far. Working with partner agencies and broader international response teams we’re providing a robust first defence.

Further, much more detailed information of our response can be seen here.

If you want to support our work, you can still do so here.

If you’re unable to donate you can do something by asking your local MP what they’re doing to support response efforts. You can also say a prayer for the army of people working on the ground to keep hope in the camps alive.