GENEVA - Aid agencies are increasing humanitarian operations to keep pace with the growing needs of the expanding Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh. The United Nations says a recent surge of new arrivals there has pushed the number of people who have fled violence in neighboring Myanmar since late August to 536,000.
An influx of around 11,000 Rohingya refugees arrived over the land border into Bangladesh Monday. U.N. refugee spokesman Andrej Mahecic says the border since has been relatively quiet; but, he adds that people are still on the move inside Myanmar, trying to make the journey to Bangladesh.
“Certainly, there are substantial numbers being reported or waiting trying to get across the Naf river using the boats and then cross into Bangladesh,” Mahecic said.
A huge aid operation is under way in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with agencies providing shelter, food, water, sanitation and other life-saving needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is concerned about the enormous health needs of the population.
Red Cross Director of Health Julie Hall says mobile clinics already have helped more than 4,000 people, but that the services available are under significant strain. She says her agency is in the process of deploying a 60-bed referral hospital.
“This will be located between the two main camps," she said. "It will be able to, when fully operational, provide operating theater complex, delivery support as well as outpatient and laboratory, etc. And, this will be a facility available not just for the migrant population there, but also the host community as well.”
Apart from this, agencies are working to reduce and prevent disease outbreaks. A mass oral cholera vaccination campaign has been under way for several days. The World Health Organization reports 235,000 of a target population of 650,000 people already have been immunized against the deadly disease.