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While public health is a significant concern, food security remains one of the main challenges. Malnutrition rates in camps were extreme even before the COVID-19 crisis. Today, Rohingya refugees are even more vulnerable and in need of urgent nutrition support. General food distribution packages are currently based on rice, oil, and pulses, on a distribution cycle of two weeks, but the access to more diversified and nutritious food is low for both refugees and host communities. They need regular access to food and to clean water to save and sustain their lives. Action Against Hunger launched an initative of cooked food support in Cox’s Bazar, where 38458 people could receive hot meals, including those maintaining home quarantine.
NGOs are advocating to deal with an invisible crisis that includes mental health and psychosocial support for refugees of all ages. Many are burdened with the trauma of losing loved ones, the anxiety of acute fear, and the uncertainty of not knowing where their family is. Compounded by the daily stressors of displacement – like hunger, lack of work, disease, lack of adequate playgrounds, or space for physical activity – depression and other mental health issues start appearing due to the COVID-19 situation. Together with trained psychlogists, Action Against Hunger provides tele-conselling sessions to help girls, boys, and their families cope and begin to heal.
The more protracted the crisis becomes, the more problematic it is if people are not given the needed support. Our priority is to focus on basic needs of the forcibly displaced Rohingya population, lifesaving assistance, their well-being and dignity, restoration of the severely damaged environment in Cox’s Bazar, and confidence-building between the refugees and host communities.
The Rohingya refugees are facing years of deprivation and a very bleak future. Despite its resilience in the face of adversity, this refugee population remains exceptionally vulnerable.
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