Why is it that the most vulnerable in society are often the most significantly affected by conflict? What do we do when a young girl is raped by a soldier and left to be haunted by this abuse for the rest of her life? Where is justice for those whose only option is to run barefoot into the rainforest away from the military, making a daring journey across a raging river and into a foreign land with no guarantee of security? How do we comprehend the atrocities of children being murdered because they were born in one village and not another?
The crisis that Rohingya refugees have experienced shakes those who bear witness to our core. We carry the stories of survivors barely able to repeat the horrors they name. We acknowledge the hopelessness we see in the eyes of mothers and fathers who have lost countless loved ones. When a teenage girl says she can’t eat a meal without remembering her father and sister whom she lost, our hearts break. It is difficult to understand the sheer magnitude of human suffering.
For nearly two years, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have lived through all of this. They have asked these questions and wept for what has happened. Yet life for them has changed very little. Work opportunities are scarce in a refugee camp. Even for the Rohingyas who have found work, they do not have citizenship in Bangladesh, meaning they are unable to work legally. Food is in short supply and levels of food insecurity are rising, not falling. This crisis will continue for years.
Knowing the enormous needs, we are making a promise to displaced families. We commit to stay. We will remain present in the Rohingya refugee camps for the next five years – funding permitting – helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world. And we invite you to join us.
The goal of this work is to walk day-by-day with Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, ensuring their families are healthy, safe, and living in peace. We will also support Bangladeshi families living in the same part of the country, where poverty levels were high even before the arrival of Rohingya refugees. Our prayer is that the influx of Rohingya refugees does not deepen the poverty of Bangladeshi communities.
Work like this has never been possible alone.
Since the first day we asked you to step in and support Rohingya families, your generosity was overwhelming. It has fueled a response over the last 20 months, reaching over 370,000 people with urgently needed assistance. The incredible work of a team of local staff and partners has ensured that your generous support is reaching the most vulnerable.
So much has already been done, but the crisis is not over. Families are still going to bed hungry, trauma still haunts survivors every night, and physical safety is a constant concern in the refugee camps.
Will you join us and once again support this crucial work?
Photos Credit: Helen Manson