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More than 700,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance after fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.
Most of the refugees are Rohingya women and children who have been forced to leave their homes in north Rakhine, arriving in Bangladesh exhausted, injured and traumatised after walking for days.
They desperately need shelter, clean water, food and medical aid.
"One year on, Rohingya women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the refugee crisis," says Farah Kabir, the Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh.
"Those we work to support are bearing the physical, and mental scars of what they’ve experienced – including shocking sexual violence, pregnancy through rape, and a painful and dangerous journey to Bangladesh.”
“Today, amid extreme poverty and desperation, women and girls in the camps face intimate partner violence, forced marriage, and the threat of sexual violence. Now more than ever, the international community must listen to these women, who are claiming their rights and calling for a just solution to their plight.”
‘The journey was like hell’
Sitara, 35, fled Myanmar with her family, fearing that her children may be targeted for slaughter. "We were told our children would be arrested and killed. They were cutting the throats of young boys and shooting older men," she says.
After escaping immediate danger they faced further hardship: "The journey was like hell. There was no food, no sanitation, nowhere to rest. All the adults' legs were swollen because we had to carry our children. We had to carry them on our shoulders, on our backs, on our heads and in our arms."
Now at Cox's Bazar, Sitara now worries that her daughters Morsadika, 10 and Ferdousa, 3, could be at risk from traffickers. "When my daughters grow up, the fear for their safety will become more intense," she says. "When you have daughters that fear is always with you."
"We have this fear or anxiety at night time that if our daughters go out then someone will snatch them and take them away. We are vulnerable, so bad men might see us as targets."
Rohingya refugee crisis: ActionAid’s response in Bangladesh
Since thousands of Rohingya refugees fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, a huge humanitarian response has swung into action. ActionAid has taken a women-led, women-centred approach, providing vital aid and long-term support.
- Working closely with women-led committees in the camps, we’ve provided safe drinking water, food, blankets, hygiene kits, alternative cooking fuel and access to washrooms to more than 40,000 refugees.
- With the arrival of the monsoon season, we began using sand bags and fencing to stabilize areas that are vulnerable to landslides.
- We’ve installed 15 water and sanitation service blocks, each consisting of 4 toilets and 2 bathing spaces.
- We’ve created 6 ‘women-friendly’ spaces – places in the camp where only women and girls are allowed to enter. Here women can process their trauma, be safe from violence, and plan for the future.
We’re also helping to train women with skills like sewing, so they can build a livelihood in the future.
We urgently need your help to support our response to this crisis and make sure the most vulnerable people are protected. Please donate now to help make sure we can reach as many women and girls as possible.
Please donate now
90% of your donation, after our fundraising costs, will go to support our emergency appeal for the Rohingya Crisis Appeal. The remaining 10% will be retained for ActionAid’s Emergency Action Fund which will only be used for ensuring we are prepared and able to respond quickly and more effectively to future emergencies and crises. If the total amount raised for this appeal exceeds the funds needed for the response, ActionAid will transfer the remaining balance to the Emergency Action Fund. All Gift Aid claimed on donations will fund ActionAid’s work across the world, wherever the need is greatest.