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Although in smaller numbers, Rohingya refugees continue to cross the border into Bangladesh, fleeing violent attacks in Myanmar. The combined refugee camps in Bangladesh are now the size of a small city, with more than 868,000 refugees (as of 31 December).

Many refugees have experienced extreme trauma, both from the attacks and the arduous journey to the border – a journey without assistance, supplies or even the promise of sanctuary.

But how did this crisis develop? Watch the video to learn more >


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decins Sans Frontières in Bangladesh

As of 31 December, 2017, MSF has:

  • Treated more than 200,000 outpatients and 4,938 inpatients
  • Scaled up mental health services, including support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence 
  • Improved water and sanitation services to prevent the spread of disease
  • Supported the Ministry of Health in completing a measles and rubella vaccination campaign, which led to 197,745 people being vaccinated

Ongoing concerns for our teams are:

  • Managing measles and diphtheria outbreaks
  • The poor water and sanitation conditions in the camp
  • The low rates of vaccination and generally poor health of the refugee population

Read out patients’ testimonies below to get a first-hand account of the crisis:

Yasmin (19 years old) with her daughter Fatima (two years old). Fatima is a patient at Kutupalong clinic in Cox's Bazar; she is suffering from severe malnutrition.

"We stayed two days at the border. There are a lot of people who cannot cross the border on the Myanmar side because of money. Some are coming by giving their jewellery, mobile phones. The ones who cannot provide such things, they cannot cross.

'Mog' are burning our house, torturing us. They torture young girls as well as children. They snatched our food and burned our houses.

After that we arrived here, we arrived at night. I had my children with me, relatives as well but most of them died. We could not take anything from our house. Most of us lost our money. I had nothing on me – just the clothes I was wearing.

I saw a lot of dead bodies in the sea; women, children and old men, also bodies missing limbs. We didn’t see anyone alive. They were trying to shoot us but they couldn’t because we ran away. They chased us. We suffered a lot because the road to the sea was blocked, the hills were blocked too. We suffered too much. We suffered from a lack of food.

My child was good before, she was walking, eating properly. She was sick when we left, but she is worse now. She is not eating food and she’s not growing anymore. I brought her to the doctors and healers but it didn’t work. People advised me to go to Kutupalong, that there is a clinic… The doctor told me we should stay to get treatment, to get well."

*Mog: Rohingyas use this word “Mog” to identify any person who is not a Rohingya, and of Burmese ethnicity. So a Mog can be a simple villager or a monk or a member of the military.

Mohammad Idriss (11 years old) is a patient at the Kutupalong clinic in Cox's Bazar.

"We saw the houses burning, that’s when we fled. They were shooting people, burning all the houses. We didn’t take food from the house, we had to run. We could not take anything. They were burning our house too, that’s why we started running.

They were chasing people and if they found anyone they would kill them. If they did not find anyone they would burn the house. I saw it with my own eyes. They were shooting rocket launchers. We were scared, that’s why we fled. They burnt our house after we came out of the house.

We arrived seven days ago. I think we cannot return to Myanmar. They burnt our house, we have no-where else to live. How can we go back there? Now we are living in Unchiprang. We are having difficulty finding water to drink or to take a shower, it is difficult to find water. That’s why we are collecting water from the ground by digging holes. But the water tastes like mud. We are having difficulty with food as well, as we have found only a little bit of food. We don’t have a roof, so we get all wet if it rains. It is a small place, we are facing difficulties living together with happiness and sorrow. There is no school anymore. I would like to go to school, because knowledge helps and when we learn, we can be doctors, we can be engineers."

Abu Ahmad (52 years old) fled Myanmar with his youngest daughter Rokia (10 years old). She is being treated at Kutupalong Clinic in Cox's Bazar. Abu Ahmad had to leave seven other children behind, and he doesn’t know if they are still alive.

“When I decided to come my son told me: “We cannot come yet, because they closed the roads, everywhere is blocked. You take my sister at any cost, you save her life first”. “We cannot save her here, you and my mother and sister just flee and save your life. Allah will save us”. Then we said goodbye and that we would pray for each other. When we arrived at the Bangladeshi border, we suffered for a couple of days in the ‘no-man’s land’ and for eight days on the Myanmar side. We didn’t find any boats. We didn’t have any food, any water; we were suffering a lot because of a lack of water and food. We found a boat and that is how we reached Bangladesh.

After two months, I was sure that I wouldn’t find my family. But I found that my eldest son is alive with his child and wife, he is staying far away from my village... both of them are ok, but we haven’t heard from the others. In this situation, with one child, I thought, what should I do? Then God showed me the way and I heard about the MSF hospital and now we are here.

I have no peace in my heart now, I am feeling stressed; 24 hours a day I am stressed. If my daughter gets better then it will be ok, the stress will go away. I wish to live like other people, living together with my daughter and with my wife all together. I wish to live with my family. If my daughter gets well, I hope we can find a place to live together.“

Rokia is 10 years old, she is undergoing treatment at Kutupalong clinic in Cox's Bazar.

She fled Myanmar with her father Abu Ahmad (52 years old) and her mother Sara (45 years old). She has seven other brothers and sisters who could not flee with them. Her parents don't know if they are still alive.

"The military were taking people away. They also tried to take us away but they couldn’t. They were taking people away from their house. All of them. My father carried me and we fled. I have been in hospital for four months now. I was admitted to the hospital in Cox’s Bazar, then I was admitted here.

I don’t like it because I have to lay down the whole day. I cannot play. I want to play but I cannot. So I draw, I draw monsters."


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The Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh is just one of the many emergencies that MSF is responding to. Your donation will go towards one of over 400 projects, like providing maternal healthcare in Iraq, responding to mudslides in Sierra Leone, or advocating for affordable vaccines in India.

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