Victor Lacken from Dublin is a videographer, journalist and award-winning photographer. He was deployed by the Irish Red Cross as a delegate to Bangladesh to work directly with the international Red Cross movement relief efforts in response to the Rakhine crisis.
I’ve just returned from the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh.
Visiting the camps and witnessing with my own eyes the thousands of plastic shelters that stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions really impressed upon me the enormity of the unfolding crisis. The situation is very serious. Since 25 August of this year, 655,000 people have arrived in Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, with little more than the clothes on their back. They joined thousands of others who had fled earlier bouts of violence in the same area. To put it into perspective, the number of people needing emergency shelter, food and healthcare is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Amsterdam.
Aid money is being spent providing temporary shelters for people to stay in – most of the people who have fled have been given makeshift homes made of bamboo, tarpaulin and rope. A basic home made from bamboo and tarpaulin may not seem like much, but for people seeking shelter and safety here in Bangladesh it the most important thing and it is the first step along the way to rebuilding their lives.
Aid money is also being spent on providing food and non-food items essential for survival as food is a constant need as there is little or no agriculture in the densely-populated camps and the people living there have little or no money. Latrines are also being built with aid money and wells are being drilled to try to improve sanitation and give people access to clean water. Access to clean water is an issue as the camps have grown so fast to accommodate so many people. Health clinics are being set up to provide basic healthcare – there are outbreaks of measles and diphtheria so immunisation and treatment programs are being rolled out.
These people are vulnerable to many health problems, so the health clinics that the Red Cross/Red Crescent is building are providing hope to mothers with sick children, and to adults with common complaints that would otherwise go untreated.
Every bit of help makes a difference. The people who have fled Rakhine State have been through a terrible ordeal and have lost pretty much everything they had. They are trying to rebuild their lives amid a very uncertain future.
If you want to help the good work being done by the Red Cross in Bangladesh, and other projects like it, donate here today; – http://redcross.ie/Christmas/