A Boeing 747, chartered by IOM, the UN Migration Agency carrying 100 tons of tents, sleeping mats, blankets and food baskets will leave Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, today (21/09) and will arrive in Chittagong, Bangladesh at 2:00 am on Friday (22/09) morning.
The aid, donated by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), is destined for some of the estimated over 420,000 Rohingya, who have fled violence in Myanmar’s North Rakhine State and arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district since 25 August.
IOM Bangladesh, which will take delivery of the aid, will organize a convoy of some 20 trucks to move it from Chittagong airport to an IOM warehouse in Cox’s Bazar district.
From there it will be distributed by IOM and NGO implementing partners to some of the thousands of people who have arrived from Myanmar with nothing and are now camped out and living rough on the side of the road or in muddy fields around the giant makeshift settlements of Kutupalong and Balukhali.
“Many of these families are still living in the open without adequate shelter, food or clean water. This airlift, which we hope will be the first of many, will provide some 850 families with tents, mats and bedding to protect them from the daily downpours and extreme heat,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies. “We are delighted that KSRelief, which in the past has partnered with IOM in Myanmar, Somalia and other conflict zones, has again chosen to step in and work with us to help these desperate people.”
The KSRelief delegation headed by the Director of Urgent Aid Department, which also includes two senior assistants and media personnel, will fly to the Bangladesh to attend the arrival and distribution of the relief materials. They will also assess the situation in Cox’s Bazar to inform further support from KSRelief.
Of the estimated over 420,000 people, who have arrived in Bangladesh over the past three weeks, over half (an estimated 225,000) are still living in spontaneous camp sites with little access to aid, including shelter, food, clean water and sanitation.
The Government of Bangladesh is working closely with IOM and other agencies to establish a new 2,000 acre site, where it will be easier for new arrivals to access aid and basic services. Site planners and engineers are already working on access roads and layout of the site.
IOM is coordinating the emergency response as a whole through the Inter Sector Coordination Group. It is also leading the shelter/non-food item and camp management sector of the emergency response, and is working with partners to ramp up procurement, ensuring that vulnerable people arriving in the site get the shelter that they need.
IOM has 62,500 tarpaulins under procurement and scheduled for delivery in the next two weeks. Sector partners are procuring another 90,000. The sector, which is initially distributing one tarpaulin per family, has delivered some 20,000 tarpaulins to date, providing basic shelter for around 100,000 people. Distribution is now running at about 2,000 tarpaulins per day.
IOM, which is also helping the government to coordinate the response in the health sector, also has 12 medical teams operating from government health facilities in the two Cox’s Bazar sub-districts of Ukhiya and Teknaf, where the Rohingya population outside the two UNHCR-run refugee camps now totals an estimated over 800,000 people, two thirds of whom have arrived since 25 August. Three IOM mobile health teams have also started providing basic and primary healthcare services in three spontaneous settlements in the area.
In addition to primary health care and referrals, the teams focus on sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health. They also provide mental health and psychosocial services to about 120 people each day. They say that all of these services will need to be massively expanded to cope with the influx of new arrivals.
Over the past three weeks, IOM teams have provided emergency and primary healthcare services to around 15,000 new arrivals and 9,500 others from the Rohingya and host populations. They assisted 64 child deliveries and provided referral services to another 226 patients.