After escaping Myanmar violence, Rohingya refugees face hunger, disease

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In less than a month, a seemingly endless sea of tents on the Bangladesh border has become home for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Members of the Muslim minority group who managed to escape persecution and death as the Myanmar army burned down their villages are now facing hunger and disease.

Inside the Bulukhali refugee camp, CTV’s Peter Akman spoke to some of the victims of what the United Nations calls “textbook ethnic cleansing.”

Nur Hawa, 28, says her husband was killed by Myanmar. She escaped with her daughter, who suffered a fever and has a badly bloated belly. Hawa has no money to buy food.

Doctors have been deployed by aid groups like the Minhaj Welfare Foundation, but the burden is enormous. Hundreds line up for medical help each day.

Syed Naja, who works for Minhaj’s Canadian branch, is predicting the crisis will get worse.

“With no proper sanitation, with no proper medical supplies, no proper food, water, God forbid there will be an outbreak,” said Naja.

Some of the aid that has arrived, including tents from Canada and food from Turkey, hasn’t been distributed. Bangladeshi government representative Shamsul Alam said that’s because it “takes time” to ensure it is divided equally.

Adding to the challenge is apparent donor fatigue. Aid groups say there has already been a sharp decline in charitable donations.

Among the groups collecting donations in Canada is UNHCR, which has partnered with the Unifor Social Justice fund to double donations made by Oct. 31.

For many in the camps, help can’t come soon enough.

With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border

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