Today our Head of Research and Development, Tuhinul Islam PhD gave a key note presentation in an International Seminar in California, USA in front of 457 world researchers and policy makers from across the globe.
During the presentation; “Nurturing Hope for Rohingya Orphans and Mothers Fleeing Burmese Genocide: Reflections on Personal Encounters in the Refugee Camps, Bangladesh”, Dr Islam discussed the plight of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people which is said to be currently the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, and how Muntada Aid are responding to this crisis.
He said; “Risking death by sea or on foot, nearly a million women, children and men have fled the destruction of their homes and persecution in the northern Rakhine province of Myanmar (Burma) for neighbouring Cox’s Bazaar – a district in Bangladesh – since August 2017. The United Nations has called the Rohingya people’s the “world’s most persecuted minority group” and described the atrocities committed by Myanmar’s authorities as a, “textbook example of ethnic cleansing and genocide”.
“Almost 60% of those fleeing Myanmar are children. Thousands have become orphans while others became lost during their journey from Myanmar. With so many undocumented children living without their parents, aid workers are worried that cases of sexual abuse, gender-based violence and trafficking are increasing. According to UNHCR, over 70,000 women are pregnant and fear that a large number of these are as a result of rape by the Burmese Army. Most children and women have been exposed to extreme forms of trauma, as they have witnessed loved ones being killed, slaughtered or tortured, and their homes destroyed. The UN and Amnesty International have stated that the raped and abused Rohingya women and girls are now ‘psychologically disturbed’. Increasing numbers of children and women at the makeshift camps are separated from family members, these numbers are growing every day.
“In the Bangladeshi camps, living conditions are dire. Most individuals do not have access to adequate health care, safe drinking water or sanitation. As well as this, there is no educational supports in place for children and young people. The ‘lucky’ and stronger ones help themselves and their families survive by carrying relief items and water on their shoulders from source to camp.
“In order to understand the scale of the crisis, assess needs and link up with potential local partners to support refugees, I recently visited these Rohingya camps. I observed the terrible situation of hardship, spent time with orphan children, spoke with women who had been raped, young pregnant mothers, men who had been tortured, aid workers and also Bangladeshi policy-makers. I heard stories reminiscent of horror movies – detailing how military personnel and their allies slaughtered whole families as daylight broke; how women were killed after being raped, how pregnancies were becoming infanticides as new born infants of rape are dropped down wells, while other children were burnt to death in front of their parents.
The Bangladeshi government has been supporting refugees to the best of its ability, with the help of national NGOs and INGOs, bearing in mind that Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populous and poorest countries.”
Throughout his presentation, Dr Islam shared his first hand experiences under the themes of Survival, Water and Sanitation; Trauma Scars; Health, Nutrition and Education; Pregnant Mothers with infants and up to 10 children orphans; and Nurturing Hope by Muntada Aid in Seemingly Hopeless Situations. What is to happen to those thousands of orphans for whom there is no family member around to look after them? Are there any answers from Activists from the De-institutionalisation Movement on the Plight of these Rohingya orphans, mothers and children fleeing genocide across Borders? What strategy or policy has been formulated to Nurture Hope for the Rohingya Orphans and Mothers fleeing Genocide in this War Zone?