A 25-year-old young mother smiles as she lays her 17-month-old son on a mat for a nap. His three-year-old sibling laughs enthusiastically just outside, energetically playing with friends, as his father carries an armload of food back to the family. It feels and sounds like a happy moment in the life of this household – but, for Rahima and her family, security and wellbeing are new prospects.
In 2017, the family was suddenly forced to flee their home near Buthidaung, Myanmar, when their neighborhood was attacked. Like thousands of other Rohingya refugees, they found safety from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district – an area that was transformed into the world’s largest refugee settlement, sanctuary to nearly 915,000 Rohingya.
“Our biggest challenge used to be the shelter where we lived. During the monsoon, whenever it rained, the floor got very wet and turned to mud…there were insects, and it was very unhealthy. It made our children sick.”
However, even though families have found safety here, they’ve also faced considerable challenges: environmental degradation. Insufficient sanitation. Lack of infrastructure. And, perhaps most devastating, the threat of catastrophic weather including the monsoon.
The monsoon has also brought additional fears to parents like Rahima: the possibility of floods and landslides. Extreme weather, steep slopes and makeshift shelters can be a deadly combination in such a densely-populated place.
Protecting refugees and improving shelters are the priorities
For many years, UNHCR and its partners have worked to save and improve the lives of Rohingya refugees by helping develop and safeguard the settlements in Cox’s Bazar district. Tens of thousands of shelters have been replaced or repaired, tens of hectares of degraded land have been replanted, and thousands of refugees have been trained in emergency response – among many other things.
In 2020, Rahima’s family received a new, improved shelter, which was constructed to withstand the effects of the monsoon and other extreme weather threats. The shelter was built with durable bamboo, and is elevated on small stilts so that water can flow under it.
“I used to be worried in our previous place, but now I’m not. The floor and the foundation are stronger,” Rahima says. “I’m not worried about the rains now; we are at peace. We look forward to a better life with your support.”
This Ramadan, every second counts to give a family in need a second chance. Your gift will help to save lives in Ramadan and the months ahead.
“Take from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them to increase.” [Al Tawba:103]
Refugees are living in an “emergency within an emergency”, and more families need our help to face the challenges to come. Zakat funds allow us to cover the immediate needs of families living under the extreme poverty line. You can calculate your Zakat here: https://zakat.unhcr.org/hk/zakat-calculator and offer it to a refugee or displaced family who has fled from some of the world’s most devastating crises. 100% of your Zakat is guaranteed to reach refugees as lifesaving cash or in kind assistance.
Dedicate your Zakat now to refugees who are unable to reach the safety of home this Ramadan. If anyone is eligible for Zakat, it is those who have lost everything except their faith in a better tomorrow. It takes seconds to give your Zakat to those who need it the most today.
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Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
Bangladesh currently hosts over 864,000 Rohingya refugees that have fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar. Following a military coup in Myanmar, a further 600,000 Rohingya are at risk of displacement.
Rohingya refugees received Zakat funds in the form of goods, including shelter material, female hygiene kits, mosquito nets, umbrellas, and bedsheets. One-off multi-purpose cash support was also provided to support host communities to offset the economic impact of the pandemic using mobile money transfer and direct cash distributions.
In the past, nearly HK$3.5 million were also received as Sadaqah to provide life-saving assistance to Rohingya refugees struggling with the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed them further into poverty and debt, exacerbating an already dire situation.