Photos

Race against the time

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Monsoon rains are arriving to Bangladesh. While rains are a blessing to farmers in many parts of the country, they are a real curse to the Rohingya refugees of Myanmar, who found refuge in the southern region of Bangladesh, around Cox’s Bazar. 

The area is home to the largest refugee camp in the world, often referred to as ‘The Magacamp of Kutupalong’, where some 600,000 people live. There are smaller camps in its vicinity too, bringing the total population of refugees in this tiny part of Bangladesh to around 1 million. 

While the people of Bangladesh are very hospitable, accommodating to their guests and always happy to lend the helping hand to the their guests, the mother nature is far less favourable. The camps are located among steep hills, which are mainly composed of sands. These areas are completely inappropriate for building any kind of residential infrastructure, let alone shelters for one million people! The main worry is that the heavy rains cause hills slide, valleys flood: which is a source of a grave danger to safety of people living there. The risks are not only related to immediate danger to body integrity (especially being buried in landslides), but also to public health issues. Flooding in the area with little and poor sanitation infrastructure, with poor access to potable water, in the area that is severely overcrowded makes the people extremely vulnerable to water-borne diseases, such as cholera, or diseases such as malaria or hepatitis A (and many, many others). Rains and muddy road also make it so much more challenging to bring supplies. Getting food, medicines, or anything else becomes a logistical nightmare!

So the race with time continues. Refugees and aid agencies of all sorts try prepare to minimise the effects of the disaster that will strike on many fronts. Reinforcing houses, levelling hills, building flood protection trenches, reinforcing mud roads, moving people to safer grounds, stocking up on medicines, vaccinating people, making latrines safer… The tasks are overwhelming, and we will clearly not be ready - however hard we try - we are just out of time already. However, as the struggle continues, the hope carries on too. 

I salute the refugees, countless Bangladesh communities of Cox’s Bazar and countless number of aid workers trying to get ready for the emergency to come! Please look at the pictures here to admire their work and the beauty (yes, I insist saying - BEAUTY) of the camps!


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