I have been working with Austcare for almost four months in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh as the Coordinator of our Program with Rohingya refugees. The Rohingyas are a persecuted ethnic and religious minority from Myanmar, and the groups in Cox's Bazar fled that persecution in 1991 to live in Bangladesh. While the Rohingyas are ineligible for citizenship in Myanmar, their rights in Bangladesh are also severely restricted. This effectively makes these people stateless.
I grew up in Mendivil, a village of 55 people in the rural area of Navarra in Spain.
On May 4, 190km per hour winds and 3.5 metre waves ripped through the most densely populated area of Myanmar (Burma). Already, there have been 15,000 deaths, with more than 10,000 of these being from a single town, Bogalay. A further 30,000 people are missing.
There are reports of at least 60 villages having been completely washed away.
United Nations officials have stated that hundreds of thousands have lost their homes, and the figure could even run into millions.
Civil wars between the Sudanese Government in Khartoum and various rebel groups have ravaged Sudan since its independence from British-Egyptian colonial administration in 1956. The most devastating consequences for local communities have been wrought by the conflicts in the regions of Darfur and southern Sudan.
The current situation
On Thursday 15 November 2007, Cyclone Sidr, described as the worst storm in years to hit the disaster-prone country, triggered a six metre high tidal wave that crashed into the south-west coast before sweeping north over the capital Dhaka.
An estimated 3000 people have lost their lives, with authorities estimating the figure could go as high as 10,000, with hundreds of fishermen still missing. Some organisations have estimated that over 1 million people are now homeless, and up to 7 million lives have been affected.
Austcare is distributing more than half a tonne of children's clothing in the eastern districts of Timor-Leste as part of its on-going response to last month's unrest in the fledgling democracy.
The Australian-based international aid organisation has developed a $340,000 program to assist those affected by the post-election turmoil that forced 8000 people from their homes and resulted in the burning, looting or destruction of more than 400 houses.
As part of its response, Austcare has begun delivering clothing for adults and children throughout the Watulari section of …