Whilst seeking to meet the urgent needs of over half a million people displaced from the conflict in Myanmar, Islamic Relief is also planning for the long-term.
“Islamic Relief has been responding to the needs of displaced people in Myanmar for years and unfortunately this will be the case for many years to come,” said David Crawford, Head of Islamic Relief’s Humanitarian Department. “It’s a protracted crisis that we need to have a long-term plan for.”
Huge numbers of refugees still arriving in Bangladesh
Thousands of refugees from Myanmar are still entering Bangladesh every day. On 5th October 2017, UNHCR estimate shows over 501,000 have already entered Bangladesh since 25th August.
“This is such a huge number of people who have no chance of going back home soon,” added David Crawford.
Islamic Relief is pre-positioning stocks from its base in Cox’s Bazaar in the south east of Bangladesh and is planning partnerships with both international and local NGOs.
“For Islamic Relief it is vital that we partner with local NGOs who may be around long after others have left and this will help us to have a better and more cost-effective response,” David Crawford explained. “It’s essential for our immediate response, but even more important for the future.”
Long-term response in camps in Myanmar
Islamic Relief has been working alongside local partners responding to inter-communal violence inside Myanmar ever since violence swept through Rakhine state in 2012. We are providing food, shelter, wells, latrines and washrooms for over 120,000 displaced people living in difficult conditions in 18 camps in the state capital, Sittwe.
We are increasing our support in the existing camps as food aid has been reduced, as a result of the fresh conflict in northern Rakhine, due to different priorities and access issues.
We have recently completed construction of 110 shelters each providing separate living spaces for eight families and our plan is to build up to 300, enabling 12,000 people to live in relative dignity. We have also provided 20 tube wells with hand pumps to provide clean water in the camps.
We also recently provided food for 535 newly displaced families in Sittwe town.
Kyaw Aung Oliver, Islamic Relief’s Country Representative in Myanmar said: “Displaced people have lived in deplorable and undignified conditions in camps for years. We are doing what we can to improve conditions for these people and we are also doing everything we can to reach the newly displaced with the most urgent needs, both in northern Rakhine and in Bangladesh, but it is a hugely complex, operating environment.
“The relationships and partnerships we have established over the years working in Myanmar will help us to have an effective emergency and long-term response but we need greater access and a long-term solution in sight for the conflict.”