Report

Acknowledgements

This report was researched and written by a BHRN team who has to remain anonymous for security reasons, and edited by Richard Potter, a researcher in BHRN, with the support of BHRN’s Executive Director Kyaw Win. BHRN is grateful to the community members who shared their stories with BHRN to make this documentation project possible.

About BHRN

The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) was founded in 2012 and works for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in Burma. BHRN has played a crucial role in advocating for these principles with politicians and world leaders.

BHRN is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), and private donors. We have members across Burma and on the Thailand and Bangladeshi borders. Any information we receive is checked for credibility by experienced journalists and researchers in the organization. We publish press releases and reports after our own investigations.

Kyaw Win
Executive Director
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
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T: +44(0) 740 345 2378
www.bhrn.org.uk
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© 2018 BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK
Company number 09633796. Private Limited Company by guarantee without share capital use of ‘Limited’ exemption, incorporated on 11 June 2015.


Executive Summary

  • Almost every refugee interviewed responded that they are facing shortage of material to repair temporary shelters
  • Lack of adequate health care was commonly reported
  • The most common medical complain was children suffering from diarrhea
  • The second most common complaint was that children had developed skin rashes
  • Patient suffering Hepatitis C and B struggled to get medicine to treat it
  • Fear of mudslide during the raining is very common
  • Rohingya in Rakhine facing travel restrictions, hunger, property damage and increasing spread of illness, disease, and death
  • Outbreak of flu combined with limited access to food is especially dangerous for small children some already died

Methodology

BHRN has conducted over 20 interviews inside newly settled refugee areas in Bangladesh and received several reports from Rohingya still living inside of northern Rakhine State to assess this situation. The findings of this report are a small sample of what is likely to be a far greater problem, which will require a response from the International Community. BHRN withheld the name of the people and the organization that interviewed during the survey for security reason.

Bangladesh:

Photo: Balukhali Refugee Camp July 26th 2018
photo: Balukhali Refugee Camp July 26th 2018.

 

In Bangladesh rains over the summer months have taken a continual toll on the shelters of refugees, particularly in newly settled areas of Kutupalong refugee camp. In 23 interviews with refugees, everyone interviewed said they were in need of building materials to repair their shelters and were unable to obtain adequate amounts of materials to repair the damage done to their homes by the rains. While most were able to obtain some materials, the amounts they obtained were not sufficient to stop leaks or repair roofing. After especially harsh storms shelters were often decimated and most families struggled to obtain tarp and enough bamboo to repair the damage.

A 27-year old man in the camps told BHRN, “We need bamboos, plotting and the big bamboo. We are not getting this.”

While NGOs are present in the area and are given access by authorities, their capacity to address such massive needs seems to be limited. Refugees interviewed by BHRN said all said they were helped by NGOs working in the area, but most expressed frustration about how limited resources were to help repair shelters. These concerns have been raised by refugees in previous years, with NGOs often struggling to meet the needs of refugees during the rainy season. The problem previously seemed to be caused by limited funding and resources, and now it appears the massive influx of new refugees to the area has compounded it.

In regards to illness and disease, many of the refugees BHRN spoke to have family members who had become ill during the rainy season and struggled to receive adequate treatment. The most common complaint of refugees was children suffering from diarrhea, which can be deadly to smaller children who easily become dehydrated. The second most common complaint was that children had developed skin rashes.

A 29 year old man originally from Buthidaung and living in Balukhali told BHRN, “My children have become sick from the rain. Their illness is diphtheria, loose motion and also skin rash. I haven’t been able to receive enough medicine from NGOs. They say to buy it from another shop. The organizations only provided paracetamol and some others.”

Perhaps most worrying, four refugees interviewed by BHRN said someone in their household had diphtheria, a contagious infection which can be deadly if not treated. Each of those interviewed said the member of the household with diphtheria was a child. The infection is rare and can be prevented by vaccination, but experts have been warning since last year that the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh may be vulnerable to an outbreak. Each of those interviewed also said they were having difficulty getting medicine and treatment.

A 55 year old man interviewed by BHRN said, “My wife became sick. She has [hepatitis] C virus. We didn’t receive enough medicine from the NGOs.”.

Generally, refugees said that while they had access to medical care in some capacity, it was insufficient. While they spoke highly of the NGOs working in the camp, most complained there was a shortage of medicine available. A few said when seeking medicine they were only given Paracetamol, despite clearly needing greater attention. The explanation again seems to be lack of funding for NGOs working in the region, which was also a problem prior to the recent influx of more than 700, 000 refugees.

In Balukhali Camp, inside the expanded area of Kutupalong for new refugees, a landslide occurred on 25th July, which sent sand and mud into areas where refugees are living. Those in the area interviewed by BHRN expressed serious concerns that another mudslide would occur, and two said they struggled to sleep when it rained because they were afraid. Refugees in the area complained about damage to shelters and sand and mud running through all their belongings. They knew of no plan to get them to a safer area.


1Names of NGOs withheld

2Beaubien, Jason. National Public Radio 27 January 2018 Rare Disease Finds Fertile Ground In Rohingya Refugee Camps

3Names of NGOs withheld.


 

 Photo: Aftermath of mudslide, Balukhali Refugee Camp, Bangladesh. 29 July, 2018.

 

Northern Rakhine State

BHRN has received continuing reports from researchers and residents living in Northern Rakhine State regarding the current situation on the ground as monsoon season continues. The greatest concerns of residents are continuing travel restrictions, hunger, property damage and increasing spread of illness, disease, and death. While NGOs have obtained greater access to the area, many residents say they are receiving little or no aid due to remaining restrictions or because they are in more remote areas which are thought to be abandoned.

Residents in Buthidaung have reported several cases of flu, especially among children. Those most impacted are in rural areas, which cannot access medical care easily or affordably. The outbreak of flu combined with limited access to food is especially dangerous for small children in the area, with reports from residents saying children have already died as a result. Among them was a report of a 12-year-old girl in Mee Kyaung Zay Village tract in northernButhidaung who died on August 7th, 2018 of the flu because she was unable to receive treatment.

Also of concern are reports that residents with hepatitis B and C have run out of medication. While most of them have remained suffering in their villages hoping care may come, others were said to have fled to Bangladesh hoping to receive care from NGOs working in refugee camps. The pattern of Rohingya slowly trickling out of Burma due to inadequate health care is part of an ongoing trend of displacement through manufactured conditions, which for many become unlivable.

Conclusion

Due to inadequately funded NGOs in Bangladesh and restrictions in Burma, Rohingya are needlessly suffering and dying of preventable or treatable illnesses. The spread of diphtheria and hepatitis B and C are especially worrying and require a significantly larger response to be adequately addressed and to prevent further spreading. Diphtheria is spread from person to person, usually through coughing and sneezing, and appears to have spread significantly through the crowded camps. Hepatitis B and C are more difficult to pass from person to person (Hepatitis B through body fluids and childbirth and Hepatitis C through blood) but further education on the viruses among refugees would help reduce their spread.

The frequency of the flu virus and diarrhea among small children is cause for great concern, as they can easily lead to death when untreated. In Bangladesh, the enormous number of refugees and limited resources of NGOs seem to be the greatest cause for the number of children suffering with limited access to medicine. In Northern Rakhine, this seems to be largely due to restrictions on movement and Rohingya living in remote areas that are overlooked or considered vacant.

The lack of adequate shelters makes some of these illnesses more likely to spread and can lead to several other forms of sickness or disease. While the massive influx of refugees in 2017 has made the 2018 rainy season especially difficult for NGOs to address, the lack of adequate shelter has long been a problem in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. There is a constant need for more bamboo and tarps in the camps during the rainy season, which needs to be calculated for.

If this pattern continues it should be expected that some of the illnesses found in the camp, particularly influenza and diphtheria, will spread in greater and greater numbers, risking more lives and costing NGOs more resources to address. It is the responsibility of the international community to recognize these problems early and to address them accordingly in order to save lives and prevent future monetary struggles in addressing new crises.

Recommendations

The international community must reevaluate its plan for the Rohingya living in Bangladesh and Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, an assessment needs to be carried out to predict exactly what will be needed to provide adequate shelter and medicine for the Rohingya living there and serious efforts must be coordinated to acquire the necessary funding to do so.

In Burma, full access needs to be granted to all NGOs working in the state with a comprehensive survey of where those in need are living. Immediate efforts should be made to distribute dehydration packs for small children in remote areas suffering from flu and diarrhea. Similar efforts must be made to emergency supplies, such as high-calorie biscuits, in remote areas where children are significantly malnourished.

Further, efforts should be made to establish sustainable living conditions in rural areas, including short-term aid re-establishing agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing for the Rohingya. Burma must grant freedom of movement for all Rohingya so they can easily travel to seek treatment as emergencies occur, as well as maintain income and livelihoods.

 


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10 February, 2018

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February 07 2018, 21:44
MONOLOGUE FOR TWO:
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST
KYAW WIN

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Events

World News About Burma

  • Rohingya should be citizens or be given their own state, says Dr M
  • Rohingya urge UN rights expert to intercede with Thai officials
  • Rohingya girl makes emotional plea to UN refugee chief
  • Oral statement by Ms Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council
  • Life for Rohingya women, the real and hidden crisis
  • Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh says it will not accept any more Myanmar refugees
  • Asia Investors Split With West Over Myanmar's Rohingya Crackdown
  • Rohingya Repatriation: Doubt lingers as conflict flares up in Myanmar
  • Silently, Burma is now expelling Rohingyas from its detention camps
  • Myanmar orders Rohingya to leave tense border zone
  • As the monsoons approach, the Rohingya refugees are desperate for hope
  • Humanitarian access worsening in Myanmar: UN official
  • Too many are looking away from Burma’s ethnic cleansing campaign
  • Amal Clooney to represent two Reuters journalists detained in Myanm
  • Burmese soldiers accused of escalating violence against northern minorities
  • U.N. chief 'shocked' by top Myanmar general's comments on Rohingya
  • Lawmakers call for pressure on Myanmar over Pyongyang ties
  • Australia condemns Myanmar violence and says offenders 'must be held to account'
  • UN genocide adviser: Indications Myanmar cleansing Rohingyas
  • Myanmar urged not to drag out case against Reuters reporters
  • Myanmar building military bases over Rohingya villages: Amnesty
  • I Saw a Genocide in Slow Motion
  • Former Rohingya MP, Aung Zaw Win, arrested in Myanmar
  • Rohingya demand help as Rakhine atrocities continue
  • The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming
  • MP calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Freedom of Dundee
  • Myanmar must take back Rohingyas with dignity: Lisa Curtis
  • Lisa Curtis: US will work towards the safe return of Rohingya
  • Rohingya should be citizens or be given their own state, says Dr M

    KUALA LUMPUR:
    The Rohingya should be treated as Myanmar nationals or be given a chance to form their own state, said Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    He said even though Malaysia generally does not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, it does so in this case due to the massacre or genocide that is happening in Myanmar.

    “Myanmar, of course, at one time was made up of many different states . . .

    www.freemalaysiatoday.com


  • Rohingya urge UN rights expert to intercede with Thai officials

    The Rohingya community in Thailand on Saturday urged visiting United Nations human rights expert Yanghee Lee to help improve their lot, as thousands of them in Myanmar have no legal status while many are still under detention.

    Thousands of Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state to seek better lives in Thailand for decades but the Thai authorities have not granted them any legal status on the grounds that they are stateless people . . . .

    news.thaivisa.com


  • Rohingya girl makes emotional plea to UN refugee chief

    A Rohingya girl recently wrote an emotional letter to a UN high official seeking the organization’s help in protecting tens of thousands of Rohingya children living in crowded makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

    “They have nowhere to go. They have no place to call home. They have no proper clothes on their bodies. They have no shoes under their feet. They have no books to read. They have no schools to go (to),” Jamalida Rafique, who now lives in Ireland, wrote to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi.. . . . .

    www.yenisafak.com


  • Oral statement by Ms Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council

    I am honoured to once again present my report to this Council on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. I have pointed out positive developments in Myanmar, as I have always done in the past, but sadly, more negative developments have emerged during the last reporting period. I take this opportunity now to provide some updates on issues raised in my report as well as to draw attention to some concerning new developments. For the sake of time, I will not repeat what I have said in my report. . . . .

    www.ohchr.org


  • Life for Rohingya women, the real and hidden crisis

    It is now 18 months since the plight of the Rohingya hit the headlines, when the mass exodus of people from Myanmar peaked following an escalation in violence. Since August 2017, more than 706,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled for safety across the border into Bangladesh. Many had seen family members killed, have been shot, suffered burns or are survivors of sexual violence. . . .

    The real and hidden crisis, during and in the aftermath of any conflict, displacement or natural disaster, is that women and girls are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence, increased loss of livelihoods and even their lives. After fleeing violence and discrimination in Myanmar these women and girls are now struggling to cope with the loss and trauma they have experienced, to stay safe in the camps and for basic survival . . .

    www.independent.co.uk


  • Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh says it will not accept any more Myanmar refugees

    Bangladesh has told the UN it cannot accept any more refugees from Myanmar, the first time the country has threatened to close its borders to Rohingya fleeing violence.

    Bangladesh is now sheltering more than a million Myanmar refugees in camps, some 700,000 of whom have poured over the border in the past 18 months having fled a military-led crackdown in Rakhine state where thousands were killed, women were raped and villages razed.. . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Asia Investors Split With West Over Myanmar's Rohingya Crackdown

    In a vast convention center in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s sprawling and eerily empty capital, prospective investors listened politely as local companies pitched opportunities and government officials spoke of the country’s vast economic potential.

    Yet in the hallways, conversations drifted toward one topic: A military-led crackdown that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country, prompting allegations of genocide and threats of renewed economic penalties from the U.S. and European Union. . . .

    www.bloomberg.com


  • Rohingya Repatriation: Doubt lingers as conflict flares up in Myanmar

    Uncertainty over Rohingya repatriation is likely to stay as conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army in Rakhine has escalated since early January, say experts.

    The situation poses challenges for Bangladesh in handling the one million refugees in Cox's Bazar, especially as tension between the host communities and the Rohingyas, and the risk of Rohingya radicalisation are rising, amid a fund shortage.. . . . .

    www.thedailystar.net


  • Silently, Burma is now expelling Rohingyas from its detention camps

    Over 700,000 Rohingya have been forcibly expelled from their ancestral lands in that country by a volatile mix of military aggression and religious persecution, with the country's government largely turning a blind eye or worse.

    State-sponsored violence has led to a massive exodus of the Rohingya from the country, a great human wave of refugees who have no choice but to flee for their lives before the onslaught . . . .

    www.washingtonexaminer.com


  • Myanmar orders Rohingya to leave tense border zone

    TOMBRU, Bangladesh: Myanmar security forces have resumed loudspeaker broadcasts near its border with Bangladesh ordering Rohingya Muslims to immediately leave a strip of no-man's land between the two countries, refugees said on Sunday (May 20).

    Around 6,000 refugees from the persecuted minority have been camping on the narrow stretch of land since fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's west last August . . . .

    www.channelnewsasia.com


  • As the monsoons approach, the Rohingya refugees are desperate for hope

    Exhausted parents dragging toddlers through water and mud, babies carried in the arms of siblings little older than themselves, and horrifyingly tiny graves of children who did not survive the journey.

    This is the confronting scene we witnessed in January at the Rohingya refugee settlements surrounding Cox’s Bazar on our visit to South-East Bangladesh as co-chairs of the parliamentary friends of Unicef.. . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Humanitarian access worsening in Myanmar: UN official

    Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, concluded her six-day mission to the country on Sunday. She visited several conflict-torn ethnic areas of Myanmar including western Rakhine state, northern Kachin state and northeastern Shan state.

    “When you cut that humanitarian lifeline, there is a very real human impact,” she said. . . .

    www.aa.com.tr


  • Too many are looking away from Burma’s ethnic cleansing campaign

    The writers insist that Buddhists must speak out about atrocities against the Rohingya, no matter how painful. “Like many around the world, we have been horrified by reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces ,” the letter says. “These have included mass rape, arson, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that had included the sadistic murder and torture of young Rohingya children and infants . . .

    www.washingtonpost.com


  • Amal Clooney to represent two Reuters journalists detained in Myanm

    Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar. A court in Yangon has been holding preliminary hearings since January to decide whether Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Officials Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison . . .

    www.reuters.com


  • Burmese soldiers accused of escalating violence against northern minorities

    Human rights atrocities and potential war crimes have been stepped up against other Burmese minorities while the world has been distracted by the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, a new United Nations report has revealed . . .

    www.telegraph.co.uk


  • U.N. chief 'shocked' by top Myanmar general's comments on Rohingya

    U.N. chief Guterres said in a statement on Monday he was “shocked” at the comments, and urged “all leaders in Myanmar to take a unified stance against incitement to hatred and to promote communal harmony”. . .

    www.reuters.com


  • Lawmakers call for pressure on Myanmar over Pyongyang ties

    WASHINGTON >> The Trump administration has slapped sanctions on companies across the globe to punish illicit trade with nuclear-armed North Korea, yet Myanmar, which is suspected of acquiring ballistic missile systems from the pariah state, has escaped the full force of the “maximum pressure” campaign . . .

    www.news-herald.com


  • Australia condemns Myanmar violence and says offenders 'must be held to account'

    Australia has told Myanmar that international observers must be allowed into the isolated Rakhine state to monitor the situation of Rohingya still living there, and to supervise the return of any of those who have fled and wish to come back. . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • UN genocide adviser: Indications Myanmar cleansing Rohingyas

    UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. adviser on preventing genocide said Tuesday that all information he has received indicates the Myanmar government intended to get rid of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state and possibly even destroy them “which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide”. . .

    www.washingtonpost.com


  • Myanmar urged not to drag out case against Reuters reporters

    YANGON (Reuters) - Some international observers urged Myanmar on Wednesday not to drag out legal proceedings against two Reuters journalists, as they appeared in court for the 10th time since they were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers . . .

    uk.reuters.com


  • Myanmar building military bases over Rohingya villages: Amnesty

    Security forces have bulldozed houses and started constructing at least three new security facilities in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, said Amnesty International's Remaking Rakhine State report, which was published on Monday . . .

    www.aljazeera.com


  • I Saw a Genocide in Slow Motion

    Sometimes Myanmar uses guns and machetes for ethnic cleansing, and that’s how Sono Wara earlier lost her mother and sister. But it also kills more subtly and secretly by regularly denying medical care and blocking humanitarian aid to Rohingya, and that’s why her twins are gone . . .

    www.nytimes.com


  • Former Rohingya MP, Aung Zaw Win, arrested in Myanmar

    Aung Zaw Win, a major property tycoon and former MP for the Union Solidarity and Development party, was arrested at Yangon international airport on Wednesday as he was about to leave on a business trip to Bangkok . . .

    www.theguardian.com


  • Rohingya demand help as Rakhine atrocities continue

    MORE THAN 100 women were gang-raped. One was raped in front of people she loved and later killed. Even a woman eight months’ pregnant was raped.

    Sultana Razia, a Rohingya teacher from Chittagong, exposed such atrocities perpetrated against her . . .

    www.nationmultimedia.com


  • The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming

    Barack Obama was determined to open up to Myanmar. Now the country’s military is slaughtering its most vulnerable ethnic group. Could the United States have prevented it? . . .

    By NAHAL TOOSI March/April 2018

    www.politico.com



  • MP calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Freedom of Dundee

    Dundee West MP Chris Law has said it is time for Myanmar leader Aun San Suu Kyi to be stripped of the freedom of the city over her country’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims . . .

    Mr Law and other members of the International Development Committee were . . .

    www.thecourier.co.uk

  • Myanmar must take back Rohingyas with dignity: Lisa Curtis

    Myanmar has to take back the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh after ensuring their security and dignity, Deputy Assistant to US President Donald Trump Lisa Curtis says on March 3, 2018. In the Reuters file photo, Rohingya refugee children fly improvised kites at Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar . . .

    www.thedailystar.net
  • Lisa Curtis: US will work towards the safe return of Rohingya

    Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump and senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council at the White House, has lauded Bangladesh for its extensive humanitarian support to the persecuted Rohingya refugees from strife-torn Rakhine state of Myanmar . . .

    www.dhakatribune.com

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