Families are facing a malnutrition crisis in the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar, where more than half a million people, mostly Rohingya women and children, have arrived in the past six weeks after violence over the border in Myanmar, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) warned today.
An estimated 281,000 of those arriving in the area need urgent nutrition support to prevent or treat malnutrition, according to new data from the Inter-Sector Coordination Group. Among them are 145,000 children under the age of five and more than 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women.
At least 14,000 newly arrived children under five are already suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
George Graham, a spokesperson for DEC member Save the Children, has just returned from Cox’s Bazar and said: “Most of the children are sullen and reserved. Their silence speaks volumes about the atrocities they have endured or witnessed. Thousands are unaccompanied or separated from their parents. In a tough, crowded and chaotic environment, these children are enormously vulnerable to abuse. One of Save the Children’s most pressing tasks is to find ways to protect them.
“The living conditions here are as bad as anything I’ve seen in fifteen years of aid work. There just isn’t enough food. While distributions are happening – Save the Children is feeding thousands and rapidly scaling up – the refugees are still hungry and many children are visibly malnourished.”
At least half a million people have fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past six weeks, making it one of the fastest movements of people in the region in recent decades.
The Bangladeshi government is trying to manage the sudden humanitarian crisis on its border but urgent and immediate support is required to provide enough food, water, sanitation and shelter for everyone in need.
Saleh Saeed, DEC Chief Executive, said: “It is heartbreaking to hear about the scale of suffering among young children forced to flee their homes. Our members are already delivering emergency relief including food rations to people on the ground. Together we are calling for urgent support from the generous public so we can scale up to ensure we reach more children in need.”
The thirteen DEC member charities have come together to call for funds to respond to the severe humanitarian needs of those affected. All are currently on the ground in Bangladesh. Save the Children is dispatching nine health and nutrition teams in Cox’s Bazar district to provide breastfeeding support for women, treatment for infant malnutrition, primary healthcare, and emotional support to mothers. Concern Worldwide is providing food rations to 48,000 people and has set up two Nutrition Support Centres in Moynadhona and Hakim Para. World Vision is providing emergency food including fortified biscuits, flattened rice, lentils, sugar and cereals to more than 3,000 households. Six other DEC members are also providing food. Money raised will support their efforts to reach people fleeing Myanmar as well as their host communities in Bangladesh.
To make a donation to the DEC Emergency Appeal visitwww.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.
The UK Government will match pound for pound the first £3 million donated by the public to the DEC Emergency Appeal.
Stay up to date with developments in Bangladesh, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter:www.twitter.com/decappeal or on Facebook viawww.facebook.com/DisastersEmer