Dhaka, 20 March, 2017 – Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal in support of efforts by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of Muslims who have sought refuge in south eastern Bangladesh, having fled violence in the northern area of Rakhine State in neighbouring Myanmar.

Since October 2016, approximately 74,550 people have arrived in Bangladesh. Many are living in unplanned and overcrowded settlements in the district of Cox’s Bazar where living conditions are extremely poor. IFRC’s 3.2 million Swiss Franc (Euros 3 million, USD 3.2 million) appeal will ensure that 25,000 of the new arrivals will receive food aid and other emergency relief items, including shelter materials, together with clean water, sanitation and health care over a nine month period.

“People are existing in very difficult circumstances. Most don’t have access to regular medical services and they are not getting enough food or sufficient nutrition”, explains Azmat Ulla, IFRC Head of Office in Bangladesh. “Shelter is also a big issue. Many are living in sub-standard temporary structures. We need to scale up our support, particularly as there will be additional challenges ahead with the onset of the flood and cyclone season”.

Under the appeal, BDRCS volunteers will also be trained to deliver psychosocial support to families suffering emotional distress. Wells will be installed or repaired to improve clean water supply.

Since January 2017, emergency funds mobilized by IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have ensured that the BDRCS has been able to distribute food, blankets, water containers and other relief items to newly arrived families. With ICRC support, mobile health clinics have also been in operation and Restoring Family Links services have helped people to re-establish contact with their loved ones. The ICRC is planning to scale up its emergency response in Cox’s Bazar by providing food and non-food relief through BDRCS for the new arrivals living in host communities.

Over the past three decades 300,000 to 500,000 Muslims from Rakhine have crossed into Bangladesh. Close to 33,000 registered refugees are living in two official camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar. Most migrants however, have been living in makeshift camps or in host communities which have limited infrastructure and public services.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent is one of the countries’ leading humanitarian organizations. It has a strong presence in Cox’s Bazar, and is working closely with all stakeholders involved in the humanitarian response, including the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies.

Note for editors: Video broll and photographs relating to the humanitarian situation in Cox’s Bazar are available at http://www.ifrcnewsroom.org/

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IFRC is the world`s largest humanitarian network comprising 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.

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Media contacts

In Bangladesh

Mr. K. Jakaria Khaled

Deputy Secretary General, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Mobile: +88 0181 145 8501 Email: jakaria.khaled@bdrcs.org

Raqibul Alam

Senior Manager, Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (PMER), IFRC Bangladesh Country Office

Mobile: +88 01714069707 Email: raqibul.alam@ifrc.org

In Kuala Lumpur:

Patrick Fuller, communications manager, IFRC Asia Pacific office

Mobile : +60 122 308 451 Email : patrick.fuller@ifrc.org

In Geneva

Matthew Cochrane, Manager, Media and Advocacy/Spokesperson, IFRC

Mobile: +41 79 251 80 39 Email: matthew.cochrane@ifrc.org