Responding to a refugee emergency and caring for neglected communities

A health worker tends to a young patient at the MSF hospital in Goyalmara, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
BANGLADESH 2018 © Pablo Tosco/Angular
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MSF has massively scaled up operations in Cox’s Bazar district in response to the influx of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar fleeing a campaign of targeted violence that began on August 25, 2017.

By May 2018, there were more than 713,000 new arrivals at makeshift camps in Bangladesh. They join hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya who had fled earlier waves of violence and persecution in Myanmar. This is among the largest and fastest-growing refugee emergencies in decades, according to the United Nations.

consultations in 2017
mental health consultations

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who have lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years. Denied citizenship by Myanmar’s government, they are stateless and face particular challenges obtaining access to health care and other basic rights.

In December 2017, MSF released the results of mortality surveys documenting the shocking scope of recent violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar. Teams in Bangladesh are treating survivors for bullet, blast, and stab wounds and injuries related to sexual violence.

Staff are responding to a range of illnesses directly related to poor living conditions in the makeshift settlements, including respiratory tract infections, diarrheal diseases, and infant malnutrition. MSF is vaccinating children and pregnant women in its facilities to support the Bangladeshi government’s initiative to expand routine vaccination in the camps. Other activities include water and sanitation efforts and mental health care services.

MSF also provides care for other neglected communities in Bangladesh. In Dhaka’s Kamrangirchar slum, teams provide reproductive health care to adolescent girls, carrying out 4,578 antenatal consultations and assisting 457 deliveries in 2016. Staff also provide medical and psychological support to survivors of sexual violence, and family planning sessions and individual mental health consultations for people of all ages. MSF runs an occupational health program for factory workers in Kamrangirchar, carrying out 8,923 consultations in 2016.

MSF has been working in Bangladesh since 1985.

Bangladesh: Voices from the violence