Lack of sufficient safe drinking water for the Rohingya Refugees

Ανοικτή επιστολή προς τον Απεσταλμένο Επίτροπο του ΟΗΕ για τους Πρόσφυγες στην Μπανγκλαντές. Η επιστολή, έχει κοινοποιηθεί στους Επίτιμους Πρόξενους στην Κύπρο και στη Refugee Relief and Repatriation Committee (RRRC) της Μπανγκλαντές.

**Αυτή την φορά εκφράζουμε τις έντονες ανησυχίες μας για την έλλειψη πόσιμου νερού  στους προσφυγικούς καταυλισμούς**

Subject:Lack of sufficient safe drinking water for the Rohingya Refugees

We are the Volunteer Doctors Cyprus, a Cypriot NGO dedicated to the provision of medical and other humanitarian assistance to people in need around the world. One of our purposes under our statute is the collection and securing of data, information and evidence for the conditions under which individuals and populations live and the causes that brought them in situations of danger and emergency.

In the summer of 2018 we organized a 10-day mission* to Bangladesh for the provision of medical treatment to the Rohingya refugee population residing at the refugee camps of Teknaf. Since then, we have been financially supporting the education of refugee children within the refugee camps.

If it wasn’t for the valuable contributions of the RRRC Office, as well as, the kind and willing help of the late official in charge Dr. Nagorik Nur Bulbul, the mission would have not been able to enter the camps and accomplish its purpose. We owe gratitude to him and we were really saddened by the news of him passing away recently, after which we sent a letter of condolences to the Consulate of Bangladesh in Cyprus. We shall also note that, we deeply respect and thank the state of Bangladesh for the immense help that has provided for several decades to the persecuted Rohingya population. The entire world shall be forever in debt to the people of Bangladesh, for this admirable humanitarian service.

On the 07/04/2020, we sent a letter to the two offices of the UNCHR Representation in Bangladesh, which we have also communicated to the Consulate of Bangladesh in Cyprus, regarding the lack of measures protecting the Rohingya refugees from the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive a response from the UNCHR, but we are relieved to be informed by your website and other sources, that certain measures have been adopted.

At this moment, we regret to note another critical issue within the refugee camps. Pursuant to credible information from within the camps, the refugees have not been receiving sufficient amounts of clean drinking water for, at least, the last two month.

Specifically the amount of drinking water available per family was reduced from five 3-litter vessels to three vessels, and more recently to the miniscule amount of one vessel. Moreover, and equally important, the water’s quality is unsafe, as the water has visible coloration, dirt and even animal feces.

Although we understand the difficulties of maintaining the large numbers of Rohingya refugees and the difficulties faced by the state of Bangladesh itself, we consider the above inadequacy to be an extremely serious issue, especially in a time of global pandemic. The availability of safe drinking water shall be the least amenity available to every human being and a basic human right, pursuant to the 2010 UNGA Resolution 64/292 and Article 1 of the General Comment No. 15 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Failure to ensure the right to water, constitutes a violation of the Refuge Convention and its Protocol, a violation of the ICESCR, and can be fairly characterized as inhumane treatment within the meaning of Article 7 of the ICCPR.

We believe that you, Honorable RRR Commissioner, understand the seriousness of the issue under discussion and the responsibility of the state of Bangladesh – surely, with the help of the UN and other stakeholders- to provide a rapid solution. From our part, a letter on the issue has been sent to the UNHCR Representation, the Consulate and other recipients.

We will appreciate if your respond to us by email or post, regarding any developments on the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Volunteer Doctors Cyprus

Written by Demetris Macriyiannis who participated in the 10-day mission* for the provision of medical and humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh during 2018.





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