The various challenges at the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar are compounded by the fact that most tube wells in the area are out of order, with rapidly depleting underground water levels.
There is no denying that our country has done a tremendous job in sheltering Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya, but much remains to be done to ease their suffering.
Simply, a community cannot function without adequate sanitation and adequate clean, drinkable water.
Most of the tube wells dotting these camps are out of order, while the state of sanitation is so bad that a foul stench permeates the very air in the camps.
This is concerning on numerous fronts -- not just for the health of the refugees themselves, but for the rest of the Bangladesh, as diseases from the camps may spread to other areas.
Local administration is blaming the unplanned digging of tube wells and a lack of toilets for the problem.
While discussions on repatriation go on, we need to make sure that the refugees currently residing on our side of the border are given the right kind of attention.
The last thing we need is an outbreak of diseases, new and old -- according to the WHO, 62% of the water in Rohingya camps is contaminated, with bacteria as bad as E.coli.
If we neglect to take care of these issues on time, we should not be surprised if there is a diphtheria outbreak.
Many refugees enter our country after living in the depths of squalour, and so bring with them various diseases -- we need to pay proper attention to their medical needs.
In the end, prevention is always better than cure.