There seems to be no place for the stateless Rohingya people fleeing discrimination and persecution in their own country, Myanmar. They run away from a country that does not recognize them as citizens, where they are subject to forced labour, land confiscation, and restrictions on movement, marriage and children. But when they cross the border into Bangladesh they still find themselves with nowhere to go. They have no protection as refugees and have to survive in a land where they are not welcome.
In 1991/1992 approximately 260,000 Rohingya refugees from Northern Rakhine State (NRS) in Myanmar reached Bangladesh and settled in several camps in the Cox's Bazar area. In 1994 many of them were forcibly repatriated, despite the fact that the situation in Myanmar had not significantly improved. Since that time, Rohingyas arriving in Bangladesh have not been officially recognised as refugees. There are now only two official UNHCR camps: Nayapara (16,010 residents) and Kutupalong (10,144 residents).
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working with the Rohingya people in the Cox's Bazar area for many years.1 In the Spring of 2006 we re-opened a project in Teknaf, following an assessment in the Tal makeshift camp that found appalling overcrowded living conditions, lack of access to food and potable water and very limited access to health care.
This paper documents MSF's concerns about the Rohingyas' living conditions in the Teknaf area with a particular focus on the Tal makeshift camp. It aims to highlight the impact of these conditions on the people' physical and mental health.
MSF calls upon the various UN agencies, the international donor community and all relevant international (non-governmental) organisations to work together in support of the Government of Bangladesh to find a durable solution to a problem that has already existed for 15 years and will not go away by itself. An alternative needs to be found for these people: nobody should have to live like this.