Sharing the Journey with Rohingya Refugees

22 Jun 18

On the 27 of September 2017, Pope Francis began the Caritas ‘Share the Journey’ migration campaign, making the now recognisable ‘Reach Out’ gesture. This motion of wide outreaching arms is now a symbol for the campaign, demonstrating the action of meeting migrants, listening to their stories and sharing in their journeys.

201806 Share The Journey Rohingya (1)
Photo credit: Tommy Trenchard, Caritas Internationalis

Photo credit: Tommy Trenchard, Caritas Internationalis

Caritas Australia works in partnership with the global Caritas network to provide practical help to refugees and migrants, while restoring hope and dignity. Caritas advocates for the care and protection of refugees and migrants and for their human rights to be upheld.

From June 17-24, the Global Action Week is taking place, with the Caritas network further promoting the campaign and encouraging people to learn and embrace refugees and migrants across the world.

The Rohingya community have faced discrimination, poverty, and violence in Myanmar for decades. As persecution and violence continues to face Myanmar’s Rohingya population in Rakhine, many have fled to Bangladesh in hope of safety. The long and brutal journey from Rakhine State in Myanmar leaves most people arriving in Bangladesh with no possessions of any kind. Many arrive injured or alone, having lost their family, traumatised by the violence endured. Caritas Australia is using funds to assist in the refugee crisis in Bangladesh. Urgent humanitarian relief is required as more refugees arrive each day and the imminent monsoon season is set to bring new devastation.

Caritas in Bangladesh

The Rohingya crisis has become the world’s fasted growing refugee crisis, with the number of Rohingya refugees currently residing in camps in Bangladesh believed to be over 1.1 million with numbers continuing to rise each day.

Through your support, Caritas Bangladesh has been able to deliver staple foods to over 40,000 families, as well as a starter pack of household goods such as cooking pots, plates and utensils. Caritas teams have also distributed kits including blankets, sleeping mats and floor mats. These basic items are a necessity as many refugees arrived at camps having no possession. Caritas is also training volunteers to promote sanitation and hygiene, while distributing over 5,400 hygiene kits and facilitating hygiene awareness for 5,000 families. Caritas has completed the construction of 19 deep tube wells, 50 bath houses and 150 latrines, with more to come.

Key Stats

  • 40,000 families assisted
  • 5,400 hygiene kits distributed
  • 19 deep tube wells constructed
  • 50 bath houses
  • 150 latrines

Caritas holds a particular focus on vulnerable groups, including women and children facing the threat of further violence and the risk of trafficking. Caritas staff have shared protection and anti-trafficking messages and trained community members to counsel. It is estimated that 60% of the refugees currently residing in Bangladesh camps are children under 18 years or age, including 12,000 orphans. Due to this, Caritas is working on building child-friendly spaces within the camps, where children can play and other community activities including public education programmes can take place.

The current situation has become more challenging as the cyclone and monsoon season approaches. The camps lie in southern Bangladesh, in one of the most deadly flood and cyclone prone areas on earth. With numbers still rising in camps, the shelters have become congested, posing a heightened threat of flooding, landslides and other weather-related hazards. Immediate infrastructure is needed to survive monsoon season, including drains, bridges, and access roads. Caritas is working to move those most at risk and distribute shelter-strengthening kits.