Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 12:58 GMT

UNHCR boosts delivery of vital aid to Rohingya in Bangladesh

Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Author Tim Gaynor
Publication Date 22 September 2017
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR boosts delivery of vital aid to Rohingya in Bangladesh, 22 September 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/59c8e5744.html [accessed 13 December 2017]

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.

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.

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 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.

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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