Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Urgent need for response to refugee crisis in Bangladesh

ChildFund Australia is deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh, as an estimated 400,000 refugees from Myanmar have crossed the border to escape civil conflict.

The situation is critical, particularly for the most vulnerable members of the refugee population—young children, mothers and the elderly. Existing camps in Bangladesh, one of Asia’s poorest nations, are ill-equipped to deal with this sudden influx, especially as the nation recovers from extreme and torrential monsoon rains. These have resulted in flooding, landslides and the devastation of local communities.

ChildFund Australia is partnering with ActionAid Bangladesh to deliver critical support to people in refugee camps. Initial distributions will focus on emergency food including rice and lentils, as well as clean drinking water. Following that, the focus will be on providing materials for emergency shelter and distributing hygiene kits containing sanitary towels, soap, clean underwear and disinfectant, as well as establishing women-friendly spaces.

“A large proportion of the refugees arriving are children and the camps do not fulfil minimum standards for humanitarian response, lacking basic shelter, food, water and access to healthcare,” said ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “ChildFund warns that immediate action must be taken before conditions worsen.

“Without emergency aid, thousands of lives are at risk. Particular attention must be given to the protection of children on the move. Having survived a long, gruelling journey from home, many are deeply traumatised and some have become separated from family members, making them extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.”

Photo credit: Depo Photos/ABACA

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