UNHCR boosts delivery of vital aid to Rohingya in Bangladesh

A month after fleeing Myanmar, vast majority of refugees live in informal camps and spontaneous settlements.

Bangladesh. Rohingya refugees find shelter in new site

Rohingya refugees navigate their way around the Kutupalong extension site where shelters have been erected on land allocated by the Bangladesh Government.  © UNHCR/Keane Shum

ROADSIDE SOUTH OF KUTUPALONG REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh – Last night, Nurun Nahar and her children slept beneath a bush on the side of a road in southern Bangladesh.

“We need a place to rest, shelter and then we need rice,” the 38-year-old Rohingya mother said, clutching a young child and standing on a pile of mud and rags, as trucks and cars slipped by on the road.

She is among at least 429,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled the latest violence that broke in Myanmar late last month.

UNHCR is stepping up the delivery of life-giving aid.

Most, like her and her children, continue to cling to life in spontaneous settlements that flank roadsides in south-east Bangladesh or in informal camps that cling to hillsides – although help is on its way.

UNHCR is stepping up delivery of life-saving aid to desperate people camped out near two official refugee camps in south-east Bangladesh.

“At the request of Bangladeshi authorities, we are speeding up the distribution of plastic sheeting to get as many people as possible under at least minimal protection from monsoon rains and winds,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing today (Sept 22) at Geneva’s Palais des Nations.

Bangladesh : Rohingya Refugees Flood Into Bangladesh

Bangladesh: Mud and rain worsen plight for Rohingya refugees (Ismail Ferdous, cameraman / Michelle Hoffman, producer)

Mahecic added that UNHCR site planners were on the scene to help organize a 2,000-acre (800-hectare) site allocated to new arrivals by the authorities.

“On Saturday we plan to begin distribution of kitchen sets, sleeping mats, solar lamps and other essential relief items to an initial 3,500 families who have been selected by community leaders,” he said.

“The last time I ate was yesterday morning."

The need for all kinds of aid is huge. Among those in dire need of shelter and food is Karimullah, 50, a Rohingya refugee who reached Bangladesh a week ago and lives on the roadside.

UNHCR steps up delivery of much-needed aid supplies

Karimullah, 50, a Rohingya refugee who reached Bangladesh a week ago and lives on the roadside.  © UNHCR/Tim Gaynor

Without shelter or food, he was among a crowd of several hundred today who jostled and fought to get their hands on bags stuffed with rice, dahl, oil, candles and matches, tossed from the bed of a truck by Bangladeshi volunteers.

“The last time I ate was yesterday morning: two rice cakes,” says the emaciated 50-year-old, who looks decades older. “I need everything.”

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