The Finnish Red Cross is sending a hospital to Bangladesh to help the refugees

AJ Ghani / IFRC
Image: AJ Ghani / IFRC
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The first Finnish Red Cross aid workers will be flying to Bangladesh tomorrow at the earliest. The Disaster Relief Fund has granted 500,000 euros to managing the refugee crisis.

The refugees’ situation in the Cox’s Bazar area in Bangladesh is very serious. Since the end of August, more than 420,000 refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, mostly women and children.

They are in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter, basic supplies and health services.

– We must hurry. Together with the Norwegian Red Cross, we are sending a hospital and roughly 20–25 aid workers to the area. The first Finnish Red Cross workers will be travelling on Saturday and the Finnish portion of the hospital early this week, say Kalle Löövi, the Director of International Operations.

Risk of infectious diseases increasing

There are a lot of sick and injured among the refugees. Poor housing conditions and insufficient sanitation increase the risk of infectious diseases. The number of refugees is estimated to continue to rise, which will worsen the situation of people already in distress.

– The Bangladesh Red Crescent has been assisting refugees in the Cox’s Bazar area since December 2016 together with the International Red Cross. By mid-September, more than 15,000 families, i.e. approximately 75,000 people, had been given food aid and 5,500 people had been provided with health services by mobile clinics. In addition, thousands of families have been given blankets, mosquito nets, water canisters, sanitary items and cooking essentials, says Healthcare Consultant Rea Noponen from the Finnish Red Cross.

The need for aid continues to increase

The humanitarian situation in Cox’s Bazar is extremely difficult, as roughly 87,000 refugees had already fled to the area the previous year. In May, tropical cyclone Mora struck Bangladesh and the Cox’s Bazar area in particular, destroying at least 150,000 buildings, most of which were being used as temporary shelters for the refugees.

Rebuilding efforts have been virtually non-existent, and the already difficult conditions have been further worsened by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains and the resulting floods.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an appeal for humanitarian aid for the refugees. An assessment and coordination team consisting of experienced aid workers is currently in Cox’s Bazar compiling an action plan on the need for aid and its scope and distribution. The team is led by a Finnish Red Cross worker.