To hear international relief officials tell it, the mostly Muslim Rohingya fleeing Myanmar into Bangladesh are settling into a paradise. But questions are being raised about conditions on the Rohingya-majority island of Ranong as it struggles to cope with all the newcomers.
“I am surprised by the images from the hills of the Rohingya refugees on the beaches,” said Cpt. Seertuin Khiang, a Chinese Red Cross official in Bangladesh, who once worked at a Buddhist monastery on Ranong and inspected the refugee camps at sea. “I think they will suffer more than the residents of the village.”
The Red Cross warned of “serious problems” in providing access to life-saving services to the new arrivals. “Limited resources, including the severe scarcity of medicines, essential supplies and infrastructure, challenge the agencies’ ability to respond to the needs of this expanding population,” it said.
With 500,000 Rohingya refugees registered in refugee camps, a “significant, established infrastructure” to assist them was already in place, it said. But an unnamed senior Red Cross officer told Associated Press a camp of thousands of tents on Ranong had no toilets, schools or roads. Other trucks carrying supplies have been delayed by customs procedures.