Some 429,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar since a violent crackdown on the Rohingya community began a month ago following a series of attacks on security posts.
The vast majority are now living in informal camps and spontaneous settlements that have sprung up in Bangladesh, clinging to hillsides and strung out along busy roads. Their need for food, shelter, access to healthcare and child protection is particularly acute.
Sara is – incredibly – more fortunate than many. Along the road south from the Kutupalong Refugee Camp, single mother Agida, 35, and her four children sleep rough on the mud-churned verge, strewn with discarded trash and clothes. She survives on occasional aid packages handed out or tossed from trucks by private donors, and by begging from passing cars. Exposed to the monsoon downpours, she is also terrified for her children. “It’s not safe here for them here,” she says with a desperation in her voice nearing panic. “Someone could take them while I sleep.”
The UN High Commission for Refugees is stepping up all efforts to safeguard the most vulnerable refugees like Sara, and their families, caught up in a tragic crisis unprecedented in the region in decades. At the request of Bangladeshi authorities, the UNHCR is putting up hundreds of family tents and distributing thousands of plastic sheets to help shelter refugees like Sara. The UN Refugee Agency, with the help of backers such as the UAE and the courier service UPS, has now sent four planes loaded with relief items into the country.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, toured Kutupalong camp and asked mothers gathered in the makeshift camp what their children needed most.
“Everything,” they replied.