Dhaka, Bangladesh (CU)_ The International Rescue Committee (IRC) started responding to the Rohingya crisis in August 2017 and formally launched it in March 2018. With more than 400 crew members in Bangladesh servicing in 27 camps throughout the district, the teams deliver critical healthcare to both the host community and the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar, as well as reproductive and maternal health, child protection, education, prevention and response to gender-based violence, and emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction (EDRR).
The IRC initiated its expansion plans in Bangladesh, with the establishment of a climate change response in southern Bangladesh. IRC personnel are delivering critical healthcare services to communities along the coast that are on the verge of losing access to key services.
Climate change is having a devastating effect on Bangladesh’s southern part, where 40% of occupied land is anticipated to vanish due to rising sea levels. Patuakhali district has been named one of the most susceptible areas in recent years as calamities like floods, river bank erosion, cyclones, and tornadoes have increasingly escalated. Hence, coastal communities are having trouble gaining access to basic services like healthcare.
Manish Agrawal, Director of IRC Bangladesh, spoke about the developmental initiatives of IRC. He said, “The IRC’s response in Patuakhali marks the expansion of our programming in Bangladesh, where we have been operating since 2017. As the leading health actor in Cox’s Bazar, our teams are responsible for the COVID-19 vaccination programme as well as providing reproductive and maternal healthcare to Rohingya refugees and the local community”.
Manish Agrawal expressed confidence in launching the climate change initiatives in the southern part of Bangladesh. He said, “We are excited to bring our experience and expertise to the southern part of Bangladesh, where we aim to reach around 26,000 people from remote areas that have become cut off from services as a result of climate change. As sea levels rise, Bangladesh could lose up to 15% of its land by 2080 and around 30 million people living in the coastal areas of the country could become displaced as a result. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal and several rivers, in some areas of Patuakhali the only way of reaching health facilities is by boat, as people live on islands that are exposed to extreme weather that can make for treacherous journeys”.
Manish Agrawal also spoke about the IRC’s initiatives in the vaccination campaign in Bangladesh. He said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional risk for those communities, and the IRC is pleased to partner with the government health authority and local actors and work closely with local communities to identify ways to provide vaccination services to people living on the islands, as well as address misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine.”