Amnesty worries over refugee health in Bangladesh after Rohingya influx

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday it was worried about the health of Rohingya refugees who live on the islet of Bhasan Char, off the coast of Bangladesh, and warned it was worried about “serious problems” with sanitation and health services.

“The camp could not be isolated from the sea and did not have modern sewage systems as well as health facilities,” said Philippe de Pontet, the director of the humanitarian program of the ICRC in Dhaka. “The isolation of the camp has not prevented the spread of diseases like cholera and dysentery but additional efforts are needed.”

Almost 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh from a Myanmar military operation in August and September that the UN has described as ethnic cleansing. The United States this week added top Myanmar military commanders to its sanctions list.

Bangladesh says it is doing its best to provide basic assistance for the refugees. Villagers are providing help by building temporary dwellings on Bhasan Char, which is capable of sheltering up to 100,000 people, and hundreds of “tents,” the government said this week. But the ICRC said those efforts were not enough and that villagers needed an enhanced capacity to provide clean water and better sanitation.

“Those living on the islet should be linked to households in nearby villages as well as better infrastructure is needed to help refugees move between camps and to engage in productive activities,” de Pontet said.

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