Rohingya Refugees: Govt plans big to ease plight

Decides to build 14,000 new shelters near Kutupalong within 10 days; armed forces to coordinate relief efforts
A refugee woman drinks from a bottle of water given by locals after she arrives in Palongkhali of Ukhia, crossing over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border with a group of over 30 Rohingyas yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain

The government has taken a set of decisions, including one to set up 14,000 additional shelters on some 2,000 acres of land near Kutupalong in Cox's Bazar for Rohingya people who have fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution by the Myanmar military forces in the Rakhine State.

Six displaced Rohingya families would be accommodated in each shelter.

The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry will coordinate the matter with Armed Forces Division, Border Guard Bangladesh, Risk Reduction for Resilient Cities, deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, World Food Programme and other agencies to construct these shelter centres within 10 days.

The decisions were taken in a special meeting on rehabilitation of the displaced Myanmar nationals and coordination of relief work held at the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday with PM's Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury in the chair.

PMO officials said the meeting was held to have better coordination among the government agencies, development partners and INGOs in relief and rehabilitation work.

The meeting decided that the WFP will construct 14 makeshift warehouses near the new shelters to preserve and store relief materials. The disaster management ministry and the local administration will coordinate necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of the warehouses.

It was decided that the Armed Forces Division will receive the relief materials to be arrived from abroad and they will transport those to the warehouses designated by the DC of Cox's Bazar. The law enforcement agencies will provide security during receiving, transporting and storing the relief materials.

All relief goods from NGOs, different organisations and individuals must be handed over to the DC and the district administration will make necessary arrangements for their proper distribution. NGOs must take permission from the NGO Affairs Bureau for relief works.

The Department of Public Health and Engineering will immediately build 500 temporary sanitary latrines while the UNHCR 8,000 more. The Local Government Division will deploy its officials and staffers in the area so that sanitation and water shortages can be addressed effectively.

The Power Division will immediately make a proper assessment for supplying electricity to the newly constructed shelters and the areas where the refugees are temporarily staying.

The meeting decided that the refugees must immediately be transferred to the newly built with the help of law enforcers.

The Directorate General of the Department of Passports and Immigration will expedite the registration of the shelter seekers while the Department of Family Planning will immediately start working in the camp areas.

Besides, 20 additional medical camps will start working in the camp areas. Vaccination will also start. A special unit will be formed for lactating mothers and the Department of Social Services must enlist the orphans and come up with a plan to take necessary steps for their welfare.

The displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar in Bandarban must immediately be moved to Ukhia camp areas. The local government and armed forces divisions will take steps to repair and construct roads for better operation of the relief work.

Health Services Division and DG of the Directorate General of Health Services will provide cholera vaccines and oral saline. They should also be prepared to address any emergency medical need.

Apart from the high-level government officials, Robert D Watkins of UNRC in Bangladesh, Dipayan Bhattacharya of WFP, Peppi K Siddiq from IOM and Tayba Sharif from UNHCR in Bangladesh were present at the meeting.