Just over a year ago, a new wave of violence in Rakhine State forced over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes. An estimated 10,000 people were killed by Myanmar’s military, many of these men and children.
With More United's support, I’ve visited the Rohingya refugee camps in the south of Bangladesh to listen to people’s stories and provide medical aid. I’m so grateful to More United’s members for supporting me in this project and wanted to share with you what I've done while being here.
Diary on the Ground
Wednesday: Landed in Cox’s Bazar, in the south of Bangladesh, after 24 hours of flying - and increasingly smaller planes! Held a series of informative meetings with Christian Aid, who will be taking me to the camps tomorrow.
Thursday: We were up and out early today to head to the camps and at 6.30am it was already warm and humid. Reached the Jamtoli camp after a two hour drive and there were queues from dawn for medical treatment. I spoke to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team about their challenges dealing with disease outbreaks in the camp.
Walking through the camps with Christian Aid, I learned there are almost 40,000 unaccompanied Rohingya children living here. Most of their parents were murdered when fleeing Myanmar. It really gets to you when you see the scale of it - they’re all so brave.
I listened to the stories of Rohingya women who fled the violence. One said to me: “We saw our children and husbands killed. We just ran with the clothes on our back. We just want peace...and justice.”
Friday: Back seeing patients in the MedGlobal refugee clinic. I’m in admiration of the staff and the work they do improving access to treatment for refugees, especially vulnerable groups like mothers and children.
With 1.2 million refugees living here, it's more populated than Manchester and Liverpool combined. The size and scale of the camps has to be seen to be believed. NGOs on the ground are warning that cyclone season could simply reduce the camp to matchsticks, leaving a death toll of up to 100,000 people.
Time to head home. The spirit amongst the people you meet is incredible given the stories they have. These kids are oblivious to the situation - they’re just happy to have made friends.
Humanity should have no borders. I’ll be taking this straight to Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt upon my return.