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Press release

19 September 2017

Christian Aid launches Rohingya Crisis Appeal as humanitarian needs mount on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border

Christian Aid has launched an appeal to help all communities displaced by violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, and Rohingya Muslims who have crossed the country’s border into Bangladesh as refugees.

Figures show 412,000 Rohingya people have fled into Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district since a fresh outbreak of violence erupted in Rakhine State on 25 August. A reported 210 villages have been destroyed in the north of the state, leading to an unknown number of displaced people within Myanmar.

For the last 12 months, Christian Aid in Myanmar has been working in camps and with conflict-affected communities through local partners in Rakhine State and supports all ethnic groups displaced by violence. Permission to work in refugee camps in Bangladesh has been limited until now to a handful of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but authorities in Bangladesh are now willing to accept further NGO support. Christian Aid is working with authorities in both countries to secure permission to work with those in need.

Ram Kishan, Regional Emergency Manager South Asia, said: “The number of refugees arriving in Bangladesh is rising rapidly - an estimated 15,000 people coming across the border daily – and now monsoon rains causing flooding in the makeshift camps are making the situation even worse. In Myanmar, internally displaced people in Central Rakhine haven’t received regular assistance for days.

Although civilians in the north of the state are not receiving regular aid, we have local partners there who can respond and scale up their efforts. The humanitarian needs on both sides of the border are mounting up.”

Madara Hettiarachchi, Head of Humanitarian Programmes, Asia & Middle East, added: “Those who have made it to the border have walked for days, crossing difficult terrain and without food. Many are sick and access to water and medical supplies are limited.

“Now is the time to take action. The number of those who need humanitarian help is huge and we need to dramatically scale up our work not only for the initial response but for the long-term. We have the local partners in place ready, now we urgently need the funds to support that work.”

In Bangladesh, Christian Aid is initially sending £40,000 to local partners to provide food, water, hygiene and sanitation, and healthcare provisions to 23,000 people. Through the appeal the charity hopes to raise more funds so the response can be scaled up in both countries.

To donate to the Rohingya Crisis Appeal, visit www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies

Ends

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter.

Photo caption 1: The Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, has been flooded due to monsoon rain. Some people are living with the flood water but others are moving to find safer areas. Credit: Christian Aid

Photo caption 2: “Everywhere we looked in the makeshift settlements of Thangkhail and Kutupalong, we saw women with new-born babies. Some were born on the strenuous journey to Bangladesh; others were born in the camps themselves. We were told that some mothers have been unable to breastfeed due to lack of food and water.” (Credit: Christian Aid/Rozana Majumdar & Umme Khadiza).

Photo caption 3: Humaira’s husband and father were killed in gunfire by Burmese security forces. Nine months pregnant, Humaira fled her village along with her three young children and mother. After walking for many days, they arrived in Bangladesh where they took refuge at Kutupalong camp. Humaira’s baby was born seven days ago, bringing her total household to four children and two women. When we met her, she was carrying a brand new tarpaulin, but she told us that she hadn’t been able to find a little patch of land inside the camp where she could set-up a small shelter. (Credit: Christian Aid/Rozana Majumdar & Umme Khadiza).