Myanmar refugee © WFP/Saikat Mojumder

Feeding Myanmar’s Refugees

Malnutrition is rising among Rohingya Muslims who fled violence in Myanmar for safety in neighboring Bangladesh. With despair in the refugee camps deepening, only the swift delivery of food aid and other resources can ensure that the indignity of displacement does not lead to even greater human suffering.

COX’S BAZAR – The Rohingya refugee camp in the Bangladeshi port city of Cox’s Bazar is a sea of metal roofs as far as the eye can see, shimmering under an unrelenting sun. Mohammed, a 60-year-old resident, greets me outside his new home and thanks me in breathless rasps for our support. He suffers from a larynx disease, one that could easily be treated with a surgery that he cannot afford. But he is simply grateful to be alive, and far away from the torture and misery he left behind in Myanmar.

Like many of those fleeing Myanmar, Mohammed walked for five days to reach Bangladesh. Sadly, his hardship is only beginning. Like the tens of thousands who huddle here for safety, he ekes out a life for his children and grandchildren on a muddy and infertile slope. What his family eats depends on others, including the sustenance provided by my colleagues at the World Food Programme.

The WFP is meeting emergency food needs for nearly 700,000 Rohingya, supplying nutrient-rich biscuits to new arrivals and feeding registered residents with regular distributions of rice, vegetable oil, and lentils. We are also providing hot meals through community kitchens and delivering supplemental nutrition to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children.

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