Rohingyas with disabilities suffering in camps: HRW

24 Sep 2018, 16:30


Dhaka: Overcrowded, hilly and rain-soaked mega camp for Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district is precarious for everyone, but especially for people with disabilities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.

More than 700,000 people reside in the camp after fleeing the Myanmar military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing more than a year ago.

‘Walking through the camps, we found large Rohingya refugees with disabilities,’ said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch, in a video message.

‘Many of the people in the camp had acquired their disabilities from brutal attacks by Myanmar’s military,’ Frelick said.

Despite efforts by the United Nations, humanitarian organisations, and the refugees themselves to build handrails, many walkways are impassable for people who have difficulty walking, said the New-York-based rights body.

Hussein Ahmad, whose 17-year-old son was shot in the neck during their escape from Myanmar and is now paralysed from the waist down, said: ‘I thank the doctor who gave my son a wheelchair, but I can’t use it because the roads are very dangerous and keep getting worse. It’s time for my son to study, but he can’t walk, and his life is being destroyed in front of me.’

Work to shore up the hastily and haphazardly built huts and other camp structures has been hindered by the Bangladeshi government’s insistence that the refugees are only staying temporarily and will soon return to Myanmar, said the HRW.

‘With such widespread misery and obvious needs for the Rohingya refugees generally, there’s a risk that refugees with disabilities will be overlooked,’ Frelick said. ‘But this is precisely the time when the needs of people with disabilities ought to be a priority.’