Rohingya refugees struggle for food at shelters in Bangladesh
DHAKA (Reuters) – Sparse food supply remains a major concern among the Rohingya refugees living in temporary shelters of Cox’s Bazar City, Bangladesh.
Though these refugees have managed to escape the violence in Myanmar, there is now a continuous struggle for food, with limited resources being distributed by both local and international agencies.
According to the United Nations, at least 300,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence in Myanmar and reached Bangladesh. But the number is set to rise as swarms of people remain on the highway along the border. These refugees have survived gun attacks, but their hunger is making them desperate now.
Fights over food and water are now a common sight near makeshift settlements in Bangladesh; and it’s becoming a challenge to control them.
Some have become experts in this fight for survival. Meanwhile, others who have just arrived famished have no clue what’s ahead. The aggressive ones manage a packet or two. The weak ones are left behind.
Rahimula, a Rohingya refugee finally managed to get a packet after three tries. It’s the first hot meal for Rahimula’s family in the last two days since arriving in Bangladesh. “As I got the information of food distribution, I ran as all of us were hungry. I managed to get just one packet of food and all eight of us shared it,” said Rahimula.
His children are now trained to deal with hunger. He told them to press hard on their stomach when they feel hungry. “We have gone through a lot of pain. I was hungry for two days after coming here. We shared one food packet between the eight of us, and I am still hungry. I don’t like it here,” said Matlab Adul, son of Rahimula.
Many non-governmental organizations are running community kitchens to feed the hungry. Food is properly packed, as there is a fear of it getting wasted in the chaos. In addition, grains are also being distributed by international agencies. But still, this is not enough and many have to go to bed hungry.
“The agencies that are out there are providing as much as they can, such as high energy biscuits, hot meals. But we certainly need more resources. Based on what we already have on the ground, that’s not enough. So we will be mobilizing more resources. We will have to work closely with the Bangladeshi authorities to accomplish this,” said Vivian Tan, spokeswoman of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.