Friday, May 21, 2010

Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh

Physicians for Human Rights released the report, STATELESS AND STARVING – Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh on 9 March 2010. This emergency report is based on a sample of 100 unregistered refugee households at the Kutupalong makeshift camp in southeastern Bangladesh as well as in-depth interviews with 25 refugees and 30 other key informants throughout the region. The Burmese refugee population in Bangladesh is estimated at 200,000 to 400,000. The Government of Bangladesh and the UN refugee agency, (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR) jointly administer two “official” camps with a combined population of just 28,000 registered refugees. The remaining unregistered refugees are currently not protected by UNHCR because they arrived after 1993 when the Bangladesh government ceased conferring refugee status to any Rohingya fleeing Burma. Arbitrary arrests by Bangladeshi authorities have restricted people’s movement in this unofficial camp leading to quarantining of thousands of people. Tens of thousands of unregistered Burmese refugees in the burgeoning camp in Bangladesh have no access to food aid. Results from the PHR household survey reveal that 18.2% of children examined suffer from acute malnutrition. In emergency settings, acute malnutrition is traditionally measured among children age 6–59 months. In addition, PHR received numerous testimonies from families who had not eaten in two or more days. As a coping mechanism, many refugees are now forced to borrow food or money to feed their families. Results from the PHR survey show that 82% of households had borrowed food within the past 30 days, and 91% of households had borrowed money – often with exorbitant interest rates – within the previous 30 days. Walking through the Kutupalong camp, PHR investigators saw stagnant raw sewage next to refugees’ makeshift dwellings. Human excrement and open sewers were visible throughout the camp. Results of the PHR survey show that 55% of children between 6–59 months suffered from diarrhea in the previous 30 days. Such inhuman conditions presage a public health disaster.

For the full report please visit: -


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