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Samaritan’s Purse responding to Rohingya refugee crisis

The displaced Rohingya people in Bangladesh are in desperate need.

UPDATE: JUNE 20 – Treatment center for waterborne diseases

Last week in southeast Bangladesh, incidents triggered by heavy rain and landslides killed at least 12 people, including two Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who were living in a refugee camp. Major monsoon storms have flooded some areas of Bangladesh, and Samaritan’s Purse is preparing for the infectious diseases that could result in the camps, including potentially deadly diarrhoeal diseases.

Makeshift shelters, latrines and small shops in the camp are built on sand and clay hills, and it is evident that there will be an increase in water-borne diseases which will likely spread through the camp of nearly 600,000 due to overcrowding.

Samaritan’s Purse constructed and operated a Diphtheria Treatment Center where we deployed medical professionals to treat hundreds of patients during the diphtheria outbreak in the refugee camps. Now, the International Organization for Migration is partnering with us to transition our clinic into a treatment center for waterborne diseases.

The wards in the Diphtheria Treatment Center are currently tents sitting directly on the ground with a dirt and sand floor. To prepare for the next onslaught of patients that is expected, Samaritan’s Purse Canada is pouring concrete floors for three of the wards, and putting up a strengthened superstructure.

The concrete floors will ensure that waste is properly collected, drained and cleaned, cross contamination is reduced, and the ward is kept to an adequate clinical standard of cleanliness. The strengthened structure is necessary to ensure the center is able to provide service to refugees in need of critical healthcare, even after enduring the storms.

Rohingya Relief

Almost a million impoverished Rohingya people have fled violence in Myanmar and are now living in temporary huts, tents, and under tarps in refugee camps in Bangladesh. More than half of those who have arrived are children, the United Nations says.

“Homes were burned, people were brutalized, and those that survived fled with little but the clothes on their backs and maybe a few household items,” said Samaritan’s Purse Canada employee David Bock from a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

“The speed of this displacement has been almost unparalleled. These are very vulnerable people who need our help. But mostly importantly, our desire is to share the love of Christ, because what they need most is hope.”

One distraught father (pictured left) told Bock that he and his wife and their children had to abandon their family farm with no warning. To stay would mean certain death—by bullets, stabbings, or beheadings—as many other Rohingya have experienced.

Although the man was grateful for safety in the refugee camp, he was desperate for some hope. Thankfully, Bock and our local church partners were able to pray with him and provide emotional support as the young father shared his heartbreak and his fears.

“Some of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced here (in Bangladesh) are praying in the name of Jesus with people, and they have been so open and receptive to praying,” Bock says. “There is a belief that this is not a problem or a situation that can be resolved without prayer. The Rohingya people we have prayed with have been very grateful for our prayers.”

Samaritan's Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team members are helping Rohingya refugees at our Diphtheria Treatment Center in Bangladesh.

Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team members are helping Rohingya refugees at our Diphtheria Treatment Center in Bangladesh.

Samaritan’s Purse has deployed multiple waves of medical personnel to Bangladesh to serve refugees since September 2017, and has opened a Diphtheria Treatment Centre which has admitted over 800 patients with 310 requiring Diphtheria anti-toxin treatment.

Through the World Medical Mission arm of Samaritan’s Purse, we sent medical equipment and supplies and medical staff to treat critically wounded and sick Rohingya refugees at a local Christian hospital. We’ve also sent over a dozen Canadian medical DART members to serve in the Diphtheria Treatment Centre.

Learn more about World Medical Mission and our Disaster Assistance Response Team, including how to apply for deployment.

Please join us in offering the suffering Rohingya people tangible relief, and the hope for today, tomorrow, and eternity that can be found only through Jesus Christ. Donate today.

Please also pray for the Rohingya people. Pray for their protection, for resolution of the conflict, and for wisdom and guidance for our staff and partners as we serve together in Jesus’ name.