Mounting tragedy for people fleeing Myanmar

By IFRC

When Rehana Begum, 20, fled Myanmar for Bangladesh she was heavily pregnant with twins, struggling for three days across mountains and spending two further days sleeping on the side of the road once she crossed the border.

On the day she arrived at Unchiprang camp, an informal settlement for new arrivals, she gave birth to a boy and a girl. The baby boy died during childbirth, and her husband Sulaiman had to bury him in an unmarked grave in the mud next to their tent.

Rehana and Sulaiman also have a three-year-old son. The small family lives in a tent with no water or food and the exhausted mother prays every day for help to arrive. She doesn’t know how she will take care of her new born or deal with the loss of her son.

The humanitarian crisis in Cox’s Bazar is one of the region’s largest man-made humanitarian crises in decades. More than 415,000 people have fled Rakhine State in Myanmar, arriving in Bangladesh in desperate conditions. As the informal settlements and camps swell with the heavy influx of new arrivals, access to shelter, water, sanitation, food and health services are urgent priorities.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers and staff are on the ground, doing all they can to support people as they arrive.

The IFRC has launched a revised emergency appeal for 12.7 million Swiss francs to support to Bangladesh Red Crescent to respond to the most urgent needs of the 100,000 new arrivals from Myanmar within food, shelter, healthcare, capacity and resources. IFRC is urgently seeking more contribution to the appeal which is being implemented in coordination with other actors.

This week in Restoring Family Links: 08/01/2016 - 08/05/2016

This week in Restoring Family Links: 08/01/2016 - 08/05/2016

U.N.: Late night of August 2, the United Nations member states finalized a statement for adoption at the UN Summit that aims to tackle the refugee crisis and future similar emergencies on September 19. The statement, considered by human rights critics, is watered down. One of the reasons why is that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Global Compact on Refugees was not included in the statement, and it is said that the Compact will not be agreed before 2018.

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International Reconnecting Families Bulletin: Cyclone Komen in Myanmar

During the last two weeks of July, heavy rains have caused floods and landslides in numerous parts of Myanmar. Cyclone Komen, which made landfall in Bangladesh on July 30th, brought strong winds and heavy rains, resulting in floods in several states and regions of the country. On the last day of July, the government of Myanmar declared Chin state, Sagaing region, Magway region and Rakhine state natural disaster zones. The floods have disrupted transportation, communications and electricity, which caused challenges in accessing the affected population.

The Government of Myanmar is leading the response in different parts of the country. The Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are coordinating their efforts, as part of a Movement response, assessing the needs as multidisciplinary teams in the most affected townships.

Reconnecting Families needs, capacity and Movement response:

Access has proven difficult, however the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), in coordination with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has mobilized its Restoring Family Links (RFL) network and is now accepting disaster inquiries. MRCS confirmed that people are gradually returning to their homes, as the water is receding. Communication lines are beginning to function in many areas.  Many evacuations were organized, which resulted in fewer RFL needs.  To date, there have been no reports of missing persons or unaccompanied minors from the areas assessed.

How to initiate an inquiry:

If you have lost contact with a loved one in the affected areas due to Cyclone Komen, the Red Cross may be able to help you reconnect. To initiate your search, please contact your local chapter. You can also start your search online by clicking here.  

If your inquiry concerns a U.S. citizen, please contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747.

To learn more about the reconnecting families work of the American Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/reconnectingfamilies.