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MSF in Bangladesh, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 229
Reason for Intervention:
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Assisting the Rohingya people
Stateless Rohingya people have been crossing the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh for decades. They are a Muslim minority in Myanmar, a country that does not recognize them as citizens. They face poor access to healthcare and little protection when they get into Bangladesh.
MSF has worked with the Rohingya in Bangladesh for many years, providing medical care, advocating for their needs to the authorities, and raising awareness of their living conditions through public communications.
In the spring of 2006, MSF re-opened a project in Teknaf, following an assessment in the Tal makeshift refugee camp that found appallingly overcrowded living conditions, lack of access to food and potable water and very limited access to healthcare. In the following months MSF focused on improving access to healthcare, particularly for the 7,500 people living in Tal camp, by opening a clinic and a therapeutic feeding center near the camp.
MSF also started a weekly mobile clinic at Shamlapur beach, providing healthcare to the Rohingya refugees living there. Respiratory and skin infections are the most common ailments.
In April 2007, MSF also opened two 20-bed inpatient units in the Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, the only two official camps that remain from the Rohingya’s 1992 exodus from Myanmar. Over the first two months of operations, these facilities admitted 650 patients.
At the beginning of May 2007, MSF closed its project in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) after eight years in the region. It was partially handed over to the Bangladeshi regional health authorities. When MSF started to intervene, the area was emerging from a 20-year-long armed conflict between the central government and indigenous people who were facing discrimination and marginalization. MSF began providing basic healthcare to a population of both tribal and Bangladeshi settlers in remote villages where healthcare was almost nonexistent. A particular focus was given to treating malaria, which is endemic in the region.
Today, the humanitarian situation has improved. While access to testing and drugs remains difficult in certain areas of the CHT, a better road infrastructure is in place, and more aid actors are present in the region.
Aiding cyclone victims
After Cyclone Sidr hit
MSF has worked in Bangladesh since 1985.