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Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in dire need of medical, humanitarian aid

PETALING JAYA: Rohingya refugees fleeing into Bangladesh urgently require medical and humanitarian assistance as they are living in unsafe and overcrowded conditions, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday.
This is the largest influx of Rohingyas fleeing the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state crossing into Bangladesh, it said in a statement.
Over 146,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh by Sept 6 in addition to the 75,000 people who have arrived since the violence began in October 2016.
MSF said most 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.
However, many refugees are stranded in no-man’s land between the border with Myanmar.
Even before 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,” said MSF head of mission in Bangladesh, Pavlo Kolovos.
“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,” he added.
One 49-year-old father told MSF that he had fled home with his family, but his son was shot while running away.
“I brought him to the hospital here in Bangladesh, but left my 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,” he said.
To accommodate the increase in patients, MSF brought in additional medical staff and midwives, set up additional inpatient wards, is providing round-the-clock ambulances, has dispatched two new mobile medical teams, and is distributing essential items to the new arrivals.
Kolovos said that one of the top priorities is a scale-up of vaccination campaigns against measles and other diseases for new arrivals, as vaccination levels in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State are very low.
“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,” he added.
MSF said it is also worried that the hundreds and thousands of Rohingyas still in Myanmar have no access to healthcare.
Although there have now been limited distributions of food, MFS said some refugees have only received dry biscuit rations, and access to clean drinking water is a concern.
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