Islamic Relief is providing food, shelter and clean water for thousands of people in camps in the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar. We are also gearing up our response to the crisis in south-eastern Bangladesh, where refugees from Myanmar were arriving at the rate of 15,000 a day in the first fortnight of September.
Since the conflict in Myanmar dramatically reignited on August 25, over a thousand people have been killed and entire villages have been burned down. Around 120,000 people have been forced to flee their home villages within Myanmar, while 400,000 more have made the exhausting and hazardous journey over the border to Bangladesh.
In Rakhine Islamic Relief is working primarily in a large camp called Ohtagyi near the state capital, the coastal city of Sittwe, in coordination with government authorities and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Already home to around 200,000 people, this camp is seeing numbers swell as it shelters newly displaced families.
“It’s a heart-breaking situation,” says Islamic Relief’s Zia Salik, who has been helping to distribute food packs to families in Ohtagyi camp. “Many thousands of people are here because they were forced to flee their burning homes and leave behind everything they had. Some immediately burst into tears when we arrived for the food distribution, explaining that they hadn’t eaten for days.
“Most are living in flimsy, overcrowded shelters tied together with string, with no running water and toilets that are often dirty and inaccessible – unsuitable for the elderly and disabled and risky for women and children. Lots of the children are half-naked, and everyone is desperate for food.”