There has not been any official order yet regarding aid for them
Refugee children from Myanmar sheltered at the Chaikkhong border area in Bandarban’s Ruma upazila are facing adverse health conditions due to hostile weather and poor hygiene.
Lack of sufficient food and water and extreme cold in the area are contributing to worsening their condition every day. The children are facing skin and respiratory problems.
Mongshe Rakhine, 37, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The children are having trouble breathing. Many of them are showing conditions similar to asthma.”
The refugees from Myanmar's Kachin State entered Bangladesh through the Chaikkhong border on February 4.
According to government information, there are 160 Myanmar nationals in the area, but unofficial information says there are about 203 of them seeking refuge in Bandarban at the moment.
Official information states that 60 of them are children, but according to locals, their number is higher than 70.
Sources said a 30-member team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Bangladesh Army has been deployed in the area since February 6.
The BGB has said that the Myanmar nationals are in the border area, but not inside Bangladesh, and they will leave on their own accord soon.
There has not been any official order yet from the government regarding aid for them.
Rodakoshe, 35, came to the Chaikkhong border with his wife and three sons. They are from Chin State in Myanmar. He told the Dhaka Tribune that the three children are suffering from various illnesses.
The refugees have been in the border area for over a week now and their condition is worsening each day.
Meanwhile, the local people in Ruma upazila fear food shortages, unless the refugees are provided with adequate food supplies by the district administration.
The refugees are also at risk of catching various waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea. There is also an acute shortage of drinking water. The people are not suitably clothed to combat the extreme weather condition, hence, they are at risk of pneumonia as well.
On February 7, a pregnant Rakhine woman gave birth in the border area. Local health workers assisted her with the birth. There are more pregnant women among them who are quite close to their due date.
The refugees had to walk at least three days through thick forests along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to reach the Chaikkhong border area.
Refugees not welcomed in Bandarban
Minister of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing said refugees are not welcomed in Bandarban.
“No refugees can stay in the hill tracts. Please do not shelter the refugees; it will only bring trouble,” he said.
He made the statement on Sunday at the Bandarban Deputy Commissioner's Office, during a district law and order and monthly development coordination meeting.
He further said: “The administration needs to start thinking about relocating the refugees to another spot.”
Lieutenant Colonel Md Sanbeer Hasan, captain of BGB Battalion 38, said: “The administration will assist the refugees with their return as soon as possible.”
At the meeting, Bandarban Deputy Commissioner Daudul Islam said: “The Myanmar nationals in the border area are the responsibility of the Myanmar government.”