WelCom August 2019:
Donor Support Critical for Refugees’ Safety, Protection
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is launching an appeal this month to assist Caritas Bangladesh in their efforts to support thousands, affected by the Rohingya conflict, forced to flee Myanmar to refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Over 900,000 Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority people of the Rakhine state of Myanmar, fled to Bangladesh to escape violent persecution. Many arrived with very few possessions and in desperate need of food, water, clothing, shelter and healthcare.
This refugee crisis first came to Caritas’ awareness in 2017 with many agencies working together to assist the refugees and their host communities.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand ran a national appeal last year with matched funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme to support Caritas Bangladesh as they worked on the ground providing much-needed assistance to refugees.
Days of heavy monsoon rains reported in July 2019, resulted in flooding, landslides and high winds in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps, displacing thousands, damaging homes, and causing at least two fatalities.
Human Rights Watch has reported Rohingya refugees in crowded camps in Bangladesh are at serious risk of displacement and injury from monsoon flooding and landslides. Since early July, flooding and landslides have displaced nearly 6000 refugees in the camps near Cox’s Bazar, damaged over 3500 shelters and killed two people, including a child.
The International Organisation for Migration reported over 400 landslides, 60 windstorms, and at least 28 incidents of flooding in the first 10 days of July, affecting over 22,000 people. Aid agencies are assessing other impacts in the camps, where almost all the refugees are entirely dependent on aid for food, healthcare, and other basic necessities.
According to humanitarian experts, it’s a particularly risky time for women and girls, when access to services are more restricted and public areas become more crowded. In response, Caritas Bangladesh has established protected spaces for women and children, which provide counselling support services, life-skills education and hands-on activities.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director Mrs Julianne Hickey said, ‘the need for our continued support now is no less urgent. Again this year the New Zealand Aid Programme has agreed to match our efforts dollar for dollar up to $150,000. This is a significant contribution and will allow us to support Caritas Bangladesh in proving support and supplies where it is most urgently needed.’
Amanda Gregan is Communications and Fundraising Co-ordinator, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.