BALUKHALI CAMP, Bangladesh – The unorganized scamper of various organizations, including companies, municipal agencies, district authorities, individuals and nonprofits to provide aid for the Rohingyas has heightened the already existing chaos in new refugee settlements in Bangladesh.
For instance, in the makeshift Balukhali camp that currently houses 40,000 residents, the refugees scurry from one place to another throughout the day, unsure of where the relief is being distributed.
“I don’t do anything all day, I only have to look for rice, find something,” said 18-year-old Muhammad Umar, who has been living in the camp for the last eight days after fleeing from Maungdaw in Myanmar’s Rakhine state with his family.
“We are waiting for food and a solution,” Umar said.
Thousands of people – the young, the old, pregnant women, sturdy and scrawny men and women – cluster around passing trucks or in the hope they will distribute food and basic supplies.
The chaos, however, is also owing to a lack of coordination among various aid providers and a rush by organizations to add to their humanitarian activities.
In the camps, it is not an unusual sight to find separate groups of people throwing out packets of biscuits, or water or some other supply while their colleagues film it all from the back of a truck.
“We watched this on television and came here because this is a new camp,” said 24-year-old Farhad Milon, a volunteer with one of the aid groups funded by a shipping company in Chittagong, the main port of Bangladesh.
Milon said the volunteers have distributed 1,000 packets of aid to families in need in different camps and are now trying to identify the ones who need it the most in Balukhali, unaware that the United Nations World Food Programme has already reached the 2,500 most neediest families in the camp and handed them a sack with 25 kilograms of food, which they hope will last them for the next two weeks.
“We know that the situation is far from ideal,” WFP spokesperson in Bangladesh, Maherin Ahmed, told EFE.
A UN volunteer told EFE on grounds of anonymity that a supplies truck that was trying to deliver aid to the camp got stuck for four hours on a small track leading to the camp owing to the rush of people, who have been trying to reach Balukhali with aid.
However, private donors are also filling the void left by UN agencies, who has sparse presence in some of the camps almost three weeks after the crisis broke out on Aug. 25 and led to the exodus of almost 400,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.