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January 23 2018 | BANGLADESH

A school for 300 rohingya children open in Jamtholi refugee camp

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The cholera and diphtheria epidemic that has hit a big part of the Rohingya population in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, especially in December and the first half of January, is almost passed. However, there is a new menace in the horizon: the annual arrival of the monsoon season (which this year is predicted to be particularly long and strong). This menace comes together with a cyclon that is likely to arrive from the north-east around mid-April.

Considering that the barracks are placed in slopes of sandy and soft terrain, there is a very high probability of collapses and landslides for about 60% of the provisional dwellings. Consequently, the population needs protection and shelter.
Monsoon season also means potential cholera diffusion. Given these news, the Community of Sant'Egidio is continuing its committment at the side of MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), by distributing in these days a substantial amount of medical help to the camps' clinics of Shamlapur & Unchiprang.
Back to School!
At the same time, to answer to the many needs of the children, which are now more than half the population in the Rohingya camps (around 520,000), Sant'Egidio has opened a school for 300 children in the refugee camp of Jamtholi.
Today, the school works for 6 days a week, from Saturday to Thursday, from 9am to 3pm in 3 turns of 100 children.
The teachers are four Rohingya refugees who were teachers in Rakhine before they flee. At the moment school is held in a provisional barrack, whilst waiting for a bigger and more stable construction in a plot of land already located, for which authorisations have been granted. It is in partnership with Dreamers and Muhammadiyah, who also manage a small nutritional centre.
To start school here is a gesture of hope for the future of Rohingya, in a moment where the situation is on a standstill. The possibility of a repatriation, announced by the government of Bangladesh after the meeting with the government of Maynmar and Naypyidaw on 16th January, encounters many considerable difficulties.
The possible repatriation is subordinate to the concession of Myanmar citizenship to the Rohingya population. This concession will be given (according to the agreements) to no more than 300 people per day. This means that the refugee camps would be eliminated only in 10 years' time!

The school is the first step towards trying to transform this really long "emergency" phase in a time that is useful, that prepares the younger generations to a future that we hope would see an integration process of a multi-ethnic society.


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