Responding to the needs of a fleeing population in Bangladesh

Imagine having to escape violence in your home country. You pick up what you can, but you need to leave right now, what would you take? There are thousands of others doing the same. The violence may be right at your door, you may become separated from family and friends in the chaos. Now you need to travel to another country and find shelter there. Since October 2016, this has been the reality for hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeeing violence in northern areas of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, into Bangladesh.

This humanitarian crisis continues, as many more continue to flee their homes in search of safety.  Over the last few weeks, more than 600, 000 people have crossed the border into Bangladesh, with tens of thousands more continuing to arrive weekly.

Many of those who arrive at the makeshift settlements in Bangladesh are unaccompanied children, who may have been separated from their families, or who have lost their parents or caregivers to violence. Particularly vulnerable in these types are crises are women and girls, who are at high risk of trafficking and exploitation.

The situation is serious. Resources in the settlements are already stretched thin, and the steady arrival of more people adds to the strain on basic resources like access to clean water, food, shelter, and education. The weather poses additional challenges,as heavy rains make access difficult, mud rivers wash away flimsy shelters and cyclones threaten the area  such as Cyclone Mora, which hit the area earlier this  year.  


The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Bangladesh Red Crescent are working to meet these needs, providing water, food, shelter, medical support, mental health support, and other relief items. The Bangladesh Red Crescent is also helping with family reunification.

The Red Cross has also put in place procedures to reunite families that have been separated, and identify possible victims of trafficking and exploitation. We have also created spaces  for women and children to go for support, and are working to set up areas for safe disclosure and referrals.

The Norwegian and Finnish Red Cross, with support from the Canadian Red Cross, opened a 60-bed hospital which includes an operating theatre and isolation unit. Last week, the hospital welcomed the first baby to be born there, with another baby born by emergency C-section a few days later.

As well, the Canadian Red Cross has sent a mobile health team to Bangladesh. This team will walk a minimum of two hours per day into camps, with medical supplies strapped to their backs, to provide life-saving medical care to the most vulnerable.

The Canadian Red Cross work in Bangladesh is made possible thanks to funding from the Government of Canada and the generosity of Canadians.

Canadians can support this work through a donation to the Myanmar Refugee Appeal

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