In the early hours of August 25, 2017, violence broke out against the Rohingya people in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, who are described as being among the most unwanted and persecuted people in the world. The atrocities committed against them are impossible to comprehend. Thousands of them have been tortured, assaulted, or killed, and most have lost everything, including their homes.
Nearly 700,000 refugees fled across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. They left their homes and all they knew with little more than the clothes on their backs and arrived to nothing. They now reside in a corner of southeastern Bangladesh near Cox’s Bazar in makeshift tents and structures perched on hillsides. They have little hope of returning home, and their situation in the refugee settlement is precarious—especially for women and children.
The result has been a critical humanitarian emergency. The nutrition situation is critical due to congested living conditions, lack of sufficient food, poor sanitation and water quality, leading to increased disease. Services are under strain because of the massive increase of people into restricted areas with insufficient land and space.
Water and sanitation facilities have been hastily constructed and many are of poor quality. Poor water and sanitation, mixed with the extremely high population density, has led to high rates of acute diarrhea and raises the risk of disease. The population has already experienced outbreaks of measles and diphtheria. Children are especially at increased risk of death.
Our friends, Phil and Christine Detweiler, are in Bangladesh with Medair, a Christian humanitarian agency. Inspired by their commitment to Christ, Medair’s purpose is to relieve suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated places. They are establishing three nutrition centers to provide supplementary feeding for pregnant women and children. Among the refugees, many of the pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished, and this affects the growth of unborn children and newborn babies. These centers will also perform screening, counseling, and referrals for mothers and infants less than 6 months with acute malnutrition.
Will you help these families with already at-risk mothers and infants in this very difficult environment?
Alec D. Brooks