World News

Rohingya Crisis: Help for Pregnant And Lactating Women

Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera
Rohingya Crisis: Help for Pregnant And Lactating Women
Christina Comben

The enormity of the Rohingya crisis is hard to comprehend. In 2017, innocent populations facing genocide is simply not acceptable. While Bangladesh is opening up refugee camps to receive those fleeing from persecution, they have so far been ill-equipped to meet the needs of pregnant and lactating women.

But for the Rohingya, there is finally some good news, as trained nurses have been sent to aid the 24,000 Rohingya women currently in need of extra care in the refugee camps.

Overflowing Refugee Camps

So far, it is estimated that upwards of 436,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar since August 25. They are being forced out of their homes, running from bullets, persecution and certain death should they stay, after the Myanmar military began their brutal crackdown on this ethnic Muslim group.

In little more than a month, hundreds of Rohingya villages have been destroyed and completely burned to the ground. The UN has called the situation a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

Amid the suddenness and the confusion of the crisis, international aid agencies have been unable to provide sufficient shelter and living conditions for the Rohingya refugees. Especially for the Rohingya women, of which an estimated 24,000 are pregnant or lactating and need special attention.

Midwives Come to The Aid of Rohingya Women

At last, many midwives trained by the UNFPA, have been deployed to refugee camps in Bangladesh, including the largest camp, Kutupalong.

The health center here is open 24/7 and can now provide antenatal and postnatal care to these poor, homeless and countryless women, who have had to run to escape the brutality.

Drugs and health care services are being provided for free to mothers who have low nutritional levels and no previous access to health care of any kind. Some of which were forced to give birth in the middle or rice and paddy fields, while leaving their homes.

Priya Marwah, the Humanitarian Response Coordinator at the UNFPA, said, “Just two days ago we found a woman who delivered on the roadside in the middle of night. She was brought to one of our health centers where our midwives were able to take care of her and the baby… These kinds of stories are happening on a daily basis.”

Rohingya women tend to be particularly weak due to multiple pregnancies and a very high number of children. Some women here have been found to have between 7-14 children because of lack of knowledge or resources for family planning. Advice and preventative measures are also being given to them here.

In the midst of unbearable human misery, these midwives are able to make a difference, successfully deliver new babies into the world and prevent young mothers from unnecessary loss of life. They represent a glimmer of hope for humanity and a savior for one of the most persecuted peoples on earth.

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