The bulk of RSF’s work is in displaced population camps (DPCs) in Bangladesh: since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, there are between 66 and 116 camps that shelter over 460,000 internally displaced civilians languishing in atrocious conditions until today. Overpopulation and high population density are two primary features of the DPCs, with much of the lodging being sets of small, very crowded, makeshift huts and torn tents.
The living environment of the DPCs is unhealthy, dirty, damp and unhygienic. The DPCs flood even during moderate rainfalls and damage structure and spread disease. The lack of proper infrastructure such as functional toilet facilities and drainage systems and scarcity of clean water are catalysts for a wide range of contagious and fatal diseases.
Infant mortality is quite high due to malnutrition and lack of access to proper health care. A survey found that 60 percent of infants die before reaching the age of 5. Due to poverty and other related factors like social marginalization and discrimination, DPC residents do not have access to proper medical facilities, which makes women vulnerable to unsafe delivery and chronic diseases. Many women die every year without getting proper medical care. DPC residents face many challenges in sending their children to schools resulting in widespread illiteracy.
A research comparison made between DPCs and local slums concluded that the former are leading an extremely sub-standard life on virtually every level. RSF’s work continues to be crucial in creating opportunities for improvement, prosperity and, perhaps most importantly, hope for the future.
REFERENCES & FURTHER READING
Ahsan, R.M. & Hussain, S.H. (March 1990). A review of socio-economic and nutritional issues of Bihari Camp Dwellers in Bangladesh: a micro study. GeoJournal, 20 (3).
Farzana, K.F. (2008). The Neglected Stateless Bihari Community in Bangladesh: Victims of Political and Diplomatic Onslaught. Journal of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2 (1).
Mirza, L. (1998). Internment Camps of Bangladesh. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Crescent International
Sen, Sumit (1999). Stateless Refugees and the Right to Return: the Bihari Refugees of South Asia. International Journal of Refugee Law, 11(4): 625-645.
Wasty, S., Ahsan, S., & Holmes, B. (2011). From Statelessness to Recognition; A Baseline Survey of the Biharis in Bangladesh, proceedings from the first International Conference on the Changing Nature of Forced Migration: F. Jannat, Asian University for Women, Chittagong, Bangladesh.