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Malteser International: Myanmar refugees will remain in Bangladesh for years to come

Mega camp at risk from flooding and landslides in the upcoming monsoon season

Two Malteser International-run health centers provide access to medical care for around 20,000 refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Noor Ahmed Gelal/Malteser International.

Cologne/ Cox’s Bazar. Malteser International believes that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh may remain in the country for many years to come. “They have faced serious human rights violations. Their villages have been razed and burned down. Almost every refugee in the camp has lost a relative,” says Cordula Wasser, Asia Team Leader at Malteser International. The massive mega camp will also be at risk from flooding and mudslides when the monsoon season comes.

More than 680,000 men, women and children of the ethnic Muslim minority have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed the border to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh since August 2017. The Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an arrangement on the repatriation of the refugees last November, but many refugees would only return under the right conditions. “They want full citizenship, a return to their villages, compensation for the damages they have suffered, an assurance of safety and protection against attacks. These conditions are unlikely to be met,” states Wasser. “The refugee camps in Thailand are an evidence of how difficult a return can be for ethnic minorities from Myanmar. The people in Thai refugee camps have lived there for over 20 years. We expect that it will also take many years before the refugees in Bangladesh return to Myanmar.”

The monsoon season will further worsen the already poor conditions in the refugee camp

Over 860,000 people live in squalid conditions in congested refugee camp sites in Cox’s Bazar. There is little or no access to clean water, food and sanitary facilities. According to Cordula Wasser, the upcoming monsoon season will further worsen the situation. “Forest lands on the hillsides of Cox’s Bazar have been cleared to build camps sites. Landslides and flooding will be expected when the monsoon season comes,” she says. For thousands of refugees living in makeshift shelters of bamboo shafts and polyethylene sheets, the impending floods and mudslides are a serious threat to safety. The UNHCR estimates that over 85,000 refugees could lose their shelter.

During the period of Lent, from February 14 to March 31, Malteser International will be calling for donations to support its work for refugees in Bangladesh. The organization is working with a local partner to deliver urgently needed medical care for around 20,000 people in two health centers in the refugee camp. Malteser International is also providing psychosocial support, and life-saving food for malnourished children, mothers and the elderly, while conducting hygiene trainings on the camp.

Note to editors:
Cordula Wasser, Malteser International’s Asia Team Leader is available for interviews.

Press Contact:
Isaure Schuetzeichel
Tel.: +49 (0)221 9822 7182,

Malteser International is urgently calling for donations to support people in need.


Reference: "Lent campaign for Rohingya in Bangladesh"

Find out more about the Lent campaign

For updates, please follow @MalteserInt




Katharina Kiecol
Email: katharina.kiecol(at)malteser-international.org

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