MSF scaling up activities; remains concerned about those still in Myanmar

DHAKA : Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh urgently require medical and humanitarian assistance, as an already dire humanitarian situation along the border with Myanmar worsens, reports UNB.
As of Wednesday, over 146,000 people had crossed into Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar, says the MSF.
However, local sources says the number is now close to 2,00000 with a possibility to turn 3,00000 in next couple of weeks.
This figure, coming on top of 85,000 people who have arrived since violence began in October 2016, represents one of the largest influxes ever of Rohingyas into Bangladesh.
The majority of the new arrivals are now staying in existing makeshift settlements or UNHCR-registered camps, in three new makeshift camps that have emerged, or among the host community.
Many refugees are stranded in no-man’s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar border.
Even prior to the most recent influx, many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh lived in unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic conditions with little protection from the elements.
“We’ve not had something on this scale here in many years,” says Pavlo Kolovos, MSF head of mission in Bangladesh.
“Our teams are seeing streams of people arriving destitute and extremely traumatised, and who have had no access to medical care. Many of the arrivals have serious medical needs, such as violence-related injuries, severely infected wounds, and advanced obstetric complications. Without a scale-up of humanitarian support, the potential health risks are extremely concerning.”
“I fled home with my whole family, but my son was shot while running away. I brought him to the hospital here in Bangladesh, but left the other family members in the forest in Myanmar, in the open air, just hiding there. I haven’t heard from them for days now. I don’t know what to do, I feel so desperate,” said the MSF on Wednesday night quoting one 49-year-old father.
Additional nurses, midwives and doctors have been brought in to help respond, and MSF has set up a second inpatient ward at one of its two existing clinics in the Kutupalong area to accommodate the increase in patients.
MSF is also supporting in the increase of referrals to other hospitals and providing round-the-clock ambulances to transport patients.
Additionally, two new mobile medical teams are assessing medical needs and treating the injured.
As well, MSF is distributing essential items to the new arrivals.
“We are alarmed that hundreds of thousands of people still in Myanmar have no access to healthcare and that there are no actors currently able or allowed to respond on the ground,” says Kolovos.
“As vaccination levels in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State are very low, one of the first priorities should be a scale-up of vaccination campaigns against measles and other diseases for new arrivals. More efforts are also needed to tackle high levels of malnutrition among the Rohingyas already in Bangladesh preceding this influx, as well as those still in Rakhine state.”
Although there have now been limited distributions of food, some refugees have only received dry biscuit rations and access to clean drinking water is a concern.
“I was given seven sachets of biscuits to feed my children when I arrived. That’s all they have eaten,” said a father of four who arrived three days ago. “We’re currently staying in a school with my family but the school committee said we have to leave today. I don’t know where we will go.”
MSF first worked in Bangladesh in 1985. Close to the Kutupalong makeshift settlement in Cox’s Bazar district, MSF runs two clinics offering comprehensive basic and emergency healthcare, as well as inpatient and laboratory services to Rohingya refugees and the local community.
In 2016, teams carried out 89,954 outpatient, 2,491 inpatient and 4,559 mental health consultations.


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