Refugee Camp in Bangladesh Hit by Storm

Heavy rains and high winds have stuck an unofficial refugee camp in Bangladesh, destroying makeshift shacks and other residences. Life inthe camp before the disaster was precarious—external aid is limited and theresidents are forced to fend for themselves. A vulnerable population such asthis will take a long time to recover, as many people there may not have theresources to rebuild.

About 28,000 Burmese ethnic Rohingya live in the unofficialKutapolong camp, having fled persecution at home. The government of Bangladeshrefuses to recognize them as refugees and has hampered international assistanceefforts, which has exacerbated the public health crisis there.

PHR investigators documented conditions in Kutapolong camp in 2010. They found almost no water and sanitation infrastructure and highrates of child malnutrition and diarrhea. The camp residents reportedharassment and arrest from local authorities when they left the camp, thus limitingtheir ability to find work and to buy food. One aid worker called the camp “anopen-air prison.”

By blocking aid, the government of Bangladesh is violatingright to heath of these people. This isa vulnerable population that needs outside help. The government of Bangladesh shouldofficially recognize the residents as refugees and accept offers ofinternational assistance.

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