January 16, 2018
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Thai Islamic group to provide aid for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Bangkok, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- A Thai humanitarian team on behalf of the national Islamic committee is due to travel to Cox's Bazar in southeast Bangladesh next week to provide assistance to Rohingya refugees.

Aree Arif, a coordinator with the Sheikul Islam Office's Council for Humanitarian Networking told EFE on Wednesday that a team is preparing to travel to Cox's Bazar next week to prepare and supply aid kits to the Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded camps in the city.

The team will first gather information on the ground about the number of refugees and their urgent needs, before determining where to supply the kits, after which they will purchase food and aid items locally.

"We hope to prepare around 1,000-2,000 aid kits once we arrive in Cox's Bazar," Arif said.

"One kit can support a family of four to five people, so we are hoping that our help will reach at least 4,000-5,000 Rohingya refugees there."

The coordinator said that the team will give the kits first to those who are in urgent need, particularly women and children, following the influx of the Muslim refugees into Bangladesh since violence broke out on Aug. 25.

"The aid kits will be comprised of basic food items such as rice, oil, beans and salt, as well as hygienic items for women and children."

The Thai Sheikul Islam team will coordinate with other aid agencies that have in recent years been working in Cox's Bazar, mostly those from other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia or Indonesia.

Such agencies have been more active in southeast Bangladesh since violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's western Rakhine state broke out in 2012.

"Bangladesh now has to bear the astounding numbers of refugees - now nearing a million - as a result of the conflicts of the past years," Arif said.

"It requires a really organized effort to provide the refugees with clean water and medical needs on a daily basis, which is the most urgent issue," he added.

Thailand, as well as other ASEAN nations have also faced the effects of the Rohingya crisis in recent years, and according to Arif, the latest refugee waves will lead to a new, more serious, round of illicit human trafficking that neighboring countries will have to face in the near future.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Field Services Chief Sara Bordas told EFE that the organization still has not been able to reach many desperate people who are now living in chaotic conditions in the refugee shelters and makeshift camps that have been informally set up.

UNICEF added that among the 420,000 Rohingyas who have crossed into Bangladesh, 250,000 of them are children.

Of that number, some 3,000 of the 23,000 Rohingya children examined in the refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh showed signs of acute malnutrition, said Bordas.

The latest refugee exodus followed a Myanmar military offensive against Rohingya rebels who attacked government posts on Aug. 25.

Aid organizations and refugees have claimed the military attacked Rohingyas, committed sexual violence against them and burned down their homes.

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