Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries of the world: 1,110 inhabitants per square kilometre, this is five times as much as in Germany. The country is currently experiencing an extreme high influx of refugees from Myanmar. On August 25, 2017, violent confrontations happened between Rohingya rebels and the Myanmar police and army. Since that day, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled violence and moved to Bangladesh. This situation is a challenge to Bangladesh. In addition to the support of the refugees, the country still has to cope with the effects of severe flooding which happened in the middle of this year. Heavy monsoon rainfalls and the ongoing influx of people have also worsened the situation of the refugees dramatically. To provide aid services to the people, who are often traumatised, is getting more difficult. The challenges for the host country are big.
WELTHUNGERHILFE ON THE GROUND
• Welthungerhilfe has been working in Bangladesh since 1975.
• At present the organisation runs 6 development projects reaching 15,000 people.
• Project regions are the Southeast of Bangladesh: Chittagong Hill Tracts, Haor and die Char Region.
• In Cox‘s Bazar, where refugees from Myanmar arrive, Welthungerhilfe works with its long-standing local partner organisation ANANDO and coordinates activities with its Alliance2015 partners Concern Worldwide, Helvetas and ACTED.
• Focus of project activities are the support of sustainable agriculture, adaptation to climate change, sustainable food and nutrition security and emergency aid.
• For its development cooperation, Welthungerhilfe receives private donations and public funds by the German ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development(BMZ).
• The Welthungerhilfe project activities in Bangladesh are coordinated by the regional office in India. Members of the emergency team have been sent out to support the local partner ANANDO.
• Despite a growing economy, the population of Bangladesh suffers from hunger. The 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) for Bangladesh is 26.5. Among a list of 119 countries with a calculated GHI, Bangladesh is at position 88 of the 2017 Global Hunger Index.
• It can be stated that in total the hunger figures for Bangladesh have improved (GHI 2016: 27.1), but the nutrition situation is still “serious”.
• Bangladesh suffers from the effects of climate change. Recently, the country experienced severe flooding caused by heavy rains, which also affected the situation of the refugees from Myanmar.
• In total, about 809,000 people have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh; of these around 603,000 since August 25, 2017.
• Every day, United Nations count about 10,333 individuals on average arriving in the overcrowded refugee camps. About 60 percent of the recent arrivals are children, UNICEF states there have been 320,000 since August 2017.
• The people arrive with almost no belongings and depend on humanitarian aid: They need shelter, clean water, food and hygiene articles as well as support to cope with what they have experienced. They talk about abuse, killings and rape. Many of them have lost relatives.
• The sudden and strong influx of people produces high pressure on the infrastructure and the population of Bangladesh, because the capacities to help are already overwhelmed. The reception camps are overcrowded.
• There is a high risk of diseases due to the lack of hygiene and sanitation infrastructure.
• Small children are malnourished, mothers and their babies need medical care, a daily routine like going to school is hardly possible.