Charity access eased, $250m sought for aid
Bangladesh has eased restrictions on aid groups working in refugee camps and sought $250 million from the World Bank to fund emergency relief, officials said yesterday.
The government NGO Affairs Bureau cleared 30 local and international groups to meet "emergency needs" in camps and said more would follow, Shahdat Hossain, a bureau director, told AFP.
The camps are currently facing dire shortages of food and medicine, while the World Health Organisation warned Monday of a growing risk of cholera.
The aid groups still only have permission to work for two months in the camps around the border town of Cox's Bazar, Hossain said, and must focus on providing healthcare, sanitation facilities and shelters for the Rohingya.
The new groups include local and international charities. Authorities previously only let four international groups -- including Doctors With Border (MSF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) -- provide food and healthcare.
Dhaka-based BRAC, one of the world's largest charities, is among the new groups allowed into the camps.
BRAC senior director Asif Saleh said in a Facebook post that the scale of the "humanitarian crisis" is significantly worse than what is being portrayed by the media.
He said the group has taken on the "herculean task" of setting up 15,000 toilets, 1,100 tube wells, 50 health camps, 10 delivery centres and 50 child centres.
Bangladesh has deployed dozens of emergency medical teams and sent reinforcements to hospitals in Cox's Bazar.
They have treated more than 2,350 Rohingya for serious injuries sustained in the crackdown, including bullet and machete wounds and landmine injuries.
Some 80,000 Rohingya children have also been vaccinated for measles, rubella and polio diseases and thousands of adults treated for diarrhoea, respiratory diseases and pregnancy complications.
Desperately needing more help, junior health minister Zahid Malek said Dhaka has sought $250 million from the World Bank to provide healthcare to the Rohingya.
The World Bank is considering the request, a ministry statement added.
A United Nations official last week said it would need $200 million over the next six months to handle the Rohingya crisis.
The UN made an emergency appeal for $78 million on September 9, but UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh, Robert Watkins, said much more would be needed as the exodus grows.