How do you face the day when your past is a nightmare and your future is a fog of uncertainty? This is the reality for Rohingya refugees. Trapped between an unspeakable past and an unclear future, desperate to return to a home that is out of reach, their lives have come to a standstill.
Patricia Pagulayan, from our team in Asia, talks to Tearfund’s James Rana, who works in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. He shares what life is like there at the moment, and how you can be praying with us.
A shelter – but no home
More than 1 million people live in the camps – half of whom are children. The camps are congested. ‘There is not even an inch gap between houses – and they’re not houses. They are plastic tarpaulin tents, not houses,’ explains James.
Families share limited facilities in the camps. One toilet will serve more than 20 households, each with five or six members. That’s more than one hundred people using one toilet, sometimes more.
‘The situation is hard for any type of person,’ he shares. ‘Living in this camp is not a good, happy place.’
The camps are situated on a hillside, which has very few trees and poor soil. There is a huge risk of landslides and flooding. Bangladesh is also prone to cyclones. ‘So far there have been no cyclones in the camps, praise God,’ says James. But with the climate crisis causing more frequent and severe disasters, this could soon change.
‘It’s the dry season now: [there’s a risk of] fire. As you’re aware, a couple of weeks ago there was a massive fire – a lot of people lost their lives as a result, and more than 15,000 houses have been burned... Coronavirus is another thing.’