Osman Consulting has recently completed a Winterisation project for Rohingya refugees, in collaboration with Baitulmaal. The project targeted 15,000 recently arrived beneficiaries with Winterisation packs, containing a blanket, unisex sweaters and children’s clothing.
Many people are reliant on humanitarian assistance in the Ukhia area, Bangladesh, following violence that broke out in the Rakhine State in August 2017, subsequently driving an estimated 609,000 Rohingya across the border into Cox’s Bazaar. This critical humanitarian emergency has left people with little possessions, other than simple shelters made from scrap material and bamboo. With the influx of people and strain on services and amenities, water and sanitation has posed a significant risk of spread of disease in the area.
One of Osman Consulting’s members, El-Zafarani who was in the field overseeing the project stated “there is limited access to roads in the area, preventing the development of proper infrastructure. While travelling through Balukhali, Kutupalang and Tyingkhali of Ukhia in Cox’s Bazar yesterday, I saw hundreds of people sitting and standing in groups on the sides of roads. Some of them were levelling land to begin building themselves makeshift homes, as the authorities had not yet provided a solution”.
Speaking at the WASH sector coordinator meeting, Naim Talukder (Sector Coordinator, Action Against Hunger) highlighted some key issues NGOs and various other organisations are finding difficulty in addressing. “one of the key areas which needs to be addressed is hygiene promotion. Also, with the amount of ground water that is being extracted, we do not know how much is left. Human sludge management and deforestation have also posed huge issues in the area and need to be managed by organisations”. It is vital that these areas get the attention of NGOs and organisations, particularly as the Monsoon season is approaching and will exacerbate the problems faced.
The project executed by OC and Baitulmaal was successful in a number of different areas. It ensured the temporary, basic needs for the most vulnerable people including women, children and the elderly. Moreover, the project created a climate of compassion and solidarity as different parties gathered together, such as volunteers and the army to ensure the success of the project and to alleviate the difficulties the refugees were facing during the winter period. El-Zafarani explained that “projects like this will hopefully draw light upon and encourage humanitarian organisations to work more on WASH, Shelter, Ramadan and tackling these issues before the approaching Monsoon season”.
Despite the many accomplishments, there were also some challenges along the way. One of the obstacles encountered by the OC team was getting approval for relief aid items. This elongated the process for the beneficiaries further. Speaking to some of the beneficiaries, many of them told harrowing stories of the violence they encountered. One of the beneficiaries, Nur Nahar, explained through a translator how the Burmese military “burned our house and tortured us until we fled”. Despite the circumstances the people here had endured, they were all still hopeful and kind, offering to help in any way possible.