The lack of toilets and well-maintained manual water pumps have complicated the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, according to a UN report. The report released on Sunday said that 30 per cent of the 4,370 manual pumps installed are in poor condition and 36 per cent of the 24,773 latrines were about to overflow in southeastern Bangladesh where some 750,000 Rohingya refugees are currently residing after fleeing violence in Myanmar, reports Efe news. “There is continuous new influx of refugees resulting in increase in population at multiple sites which is overloading existing WASH facilities (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) due to heavy use,” the Inter Sector Coordination Group said in the report. According to the UN, the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled the armed conflict in Myanmar to Bangladesh since Aug 25 has risen to 607,000 – 2,000 more than the data collected on Friday – 561,000 of which took refuge in camps and another 46,000 in host communities. The new influx of Rohingya refugees brought the number of the Muslim minority ethnic group that sought refuge in Bangladesh to about 819,000. The goal of WASH services is to reach out to 750,000 refugees that live with poor water sanitation and hygiene, although the UN admitted that their humanitarian services have reached only 530,000, adding that the situation is worrisome due to overpopulation, poor infrastructure and shallow aquifers.
Abu Naim Md Shafiullah Talukder of the WASH Department of the UN Inter Sector Coordination Group told Efe news that the manual water pumps work poorly due to excessive use. Regarding the latrines, Talukder said that it is normal that they are about to overflow since many people are using them, but warned that this could force the refugees to defecate in open air, deteriorating the overall hygienic conditions in the camps.
The conflict in Myanmar began when a Rohingya insurgent group carried out a coordinated attack on various police and military posts, sparking a violent response from the Myanmar military. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has labelled the military campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority group in Myanmar as ethnic cleansing.