Food Assistance, WASH Access Vital To Health Of Rohingya Refugees In Bangladesh

Project Syndicate: Feeding Myanmar’s Refugees
Michael Dunford, emergency coordinator for the World Food Programme in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

“…The Rohingya [refugees in Cox’s Bazar] are safe from persecution, but the threat of illness and malnutrition pursues them. … The sight of young children playing barefoot in filthy water, or wading in streams flowing with human waste, is ubiquitous. Toilet-building campaigns are underway, but much more is needed to reduce the risk of waterborne-disease outbreaks. As the number of refugees grows daily, cases of malnutrition, especially among mothers and young children, are rising. … To prevent malnutrition from taking hold, the international community needs more resources and more funding across many sectors. … But food assistance alone is not enough to overcome this crisis. Poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water can just as easily undermine health. … The role of the WFP and the international community supporting the Bangladeshi authorities is to ease the Rohingya’s hardship today, and push for solutions that help them realize their aspirations tomorrow” (11/14).

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