Work Against the Clock: ACT to Prepare 1000 Shelters for Rohingya

Work Against the Clock: ACT to Prepare 1000 Shelters for Rohingya

ACTNews, COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh – A heavy rain just met its death in Cox’s Bazar District, Chittagong, Bangladesh. In this town, it always rained every day. As the year got closer to its end, rain could come 24/7. When rain fell unstoppably for hours, mud would sludge in heaps. The land deconstructed, slimier.

Heavy rain also brought another nightmare for thousands of Rohingya refugees who waited and waited in Bangladesh, endlessly and aimlessly. Becoming a refugee was synonymous to being homeless and helpless. So when rain came, the land they stood upon became mud, their world shook and gone was their one and only shelter.

Still about Rohingya refugees who stayed along Myanmar-Bangladesh border. As international aid agencies recorded, until today, about 436.000 new refugees surged to Bangladesh since the conflict broke out in Myanmar. It had been one month with no progress made in Rakhine State.

Every day, thousands new refugees crossed the border. The camps got crowded day by day. It was unimaginable, how 436.000 new refugees crammed a no-man’s land. Building makeshift camp became their last resort to go on living.

Among 436 thousands of Rohingya refugees, at least 250 thousands were children. Innocent children, who knew nothing but the fact that they were being persecuted, fleeing their homeland to Bangladesh. Ironically, many of them were unaccompanied. They just trailed behind thousands of Rohingya who tried to save their lives.

From a video uploaded by Al Jazeera, these Rohingya children just plainly described the cruelty they had witnessed. Hollow experience that happened to their parents.

Crammed with mud and stale scents in camps

After stepping their feet on Bangladesh as new refugees, these children did feel safer. However, no camp ever secured their future for them.

Rainy days and gloomy sky roofed Cox’s Bazar, and they had to spend those inside a thin tent, made from tarpaulins and tattered plastics. Dozen thousand tarpaulins and tents, not in their best shape, covered the majority of Cox’s Bazar port town.

For the past week, SOS for Rohingya – ACT Team had visited several locations in Bangladesh. The facilities were limited, the camps were damp and hot. Not to mention rotten smell coming from feces in the streets around the camps. When rain came, it was a challenge to move your feet, since Rohingya people had to tread their way in one ankle deep.

Despite the challenging conditions in these new camps, Rohingya people still deemed it better than living in Rakhine, with constant fear and terror from Burmese military who attempted genocide on their community.

ACT works against the clock to prepare proper shelters

Waiting was not the answer. While the number of Rohingya refugees boomed in Bangladesh, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT), along with Indonesia people, were hunted by time. It was a natural demand to prepare adequate temporary shelters for thousands of Rohingya families.

Based on that fact, in a few next days, ACT is going to build 1000 temporary shelters (Integrated Community Shelter) around Cox’s Bazar area.

This shelter will be a milestone for ACT’s sustainable effort in Recovery and Reconstruction for Rohingya programme. We envisioned not only temporary settlement, but also a refugee compound comprising of 10 refugee blocks. In each block, there will be 100 shelters.

“Each block will have mosques and madrasah to facilitate the refugees in worshipping and studying (for refugee children). The construction of these 1000 settlement compound would be started in early October. It’s projected that this construction will be finished in three months (October-December 2017),” said Bambang Triyono as Director of Global Humanity Response ACT.

Beside settlement compound, Bambang added, 500 more temporary settlements will be prioritized for orphans who lost their parents. “The most urgent thing is to ensure that these unaccompanied children could have a better shelter. We lost count of how many Rohingya children are orphaned, how many of them just witnessed their parents took the bullet before their eyes,” Bambang explained.

Humanity Card, Teacher Sponsorship, and Integrated Community Shelter will be three long-term programmes of ACT for Rohingya refugees. These programmes are proof of ACT’s commitment to dignify Rohingya people, the most persecuted group on earth.

What a gift that Allah has given us, Indonesian people. How grateful we need to be, living in Indonesia, with all its differences. Bhinneka tunggal ika. We all coexist, in our own color, culture, and race, without any discrimination.

From this big nation, Insha Allah, Indonesia can do something to dignify Rohingya people. []

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