Concerns are growing over a possible outbreak of disease in crowded Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“There is a high risk of a public health event, not just cholera and acute watery diarrhea,” said Naim Talukder of the group Action Against Hunger, who is coordinating the efforts of 31 groups and agencies to manage water, sanitation and hygiene.
Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest, most crowded settlement of asylum-seekers plans to allocate more land for camps housing Rohingya refugees living in crowded, makeshift settlements clustered at the country’s southern tip.
More than 60 percent of the water supply in the camps is contaminated with bacteria as temporary latrines overflow into hastily-built, shallow wells, a World Health Organization survey showed. Faecal sludge in the settlements goes largely untreated.
Most refugees live in flimsy bamboo and canvas shelters in an area crowded well beyond emergency standards, said Graham Eastmond, an official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The overcrowding spells health and safety risks, Eastmond added, from rapidly spreading water-borne and communicable diseases to landslides and flooding, besides swelling the threat to vulnerable children and women.
About 625,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to sanctuary in Bangladesh from violence, death and rape in neighboring Myanmar after a brutal military crackdown on the Muslim minority.
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