The International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt today (Thursday 8 May 2018) praised the heroic efforts of Scottish aid workers delivering life-saving assistance to people that have fled violence in Burma and are now sheltering in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Visiting the British Red Cross offices in Glasgow today, she spoke to Scottish aid worker Kenny Hamilton, from Glasgow and currently stationed in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
Mr Hamilton leads a sanitation project building safe toilets and overseeing the treatment and safe disposal of human waste to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases.
The risk of a cholera outbreak in Cox’s Bazar is extremely high and will increase further with the looming monsoon season, which is expected to flood camps and could contaminate around half of the clean water sources.
Earlier this week, Ms Mordaunt announced fresh UK aid support for people living in Cox’s Bazar to provide medication, sturdier shelters, food, clean water and support for women to give birth safely.
Speaking at the British Red Cross offices in Glasgow, the International Development Secretary said:
With the devastating cyclone and monsoon season looming over the crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are in danger of landslides or of falling ill with potentially fatal diseases.
The UK is leading the way to provide vaccinations, strengthen shelters and deliver food and clean water to those that have been forced to flee their homes because of brutal violence and persecution.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent continue to play a vital role in the response to this crisis and Scottish aid workers are among those remarkable humanitarians delivering life-saving assistance to the men, women and children who have suffered so much.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent have already provided emergency support to 254,000 people – backed by UK aid – including fresh water, jerry cans and hygiene kits.
A 24 hour surgical field hospital with 100 beds, including 40 isolation beds, is operating opposite one of the largest makeshift camps, staffed by Bangladeshi doctors and midwives with international medical and support staff.
British Red Cross aid worker Kenny Hamilton said:
Our priority is water hygiene, health promotion and making existing sanitation facilities more robust for the upcoming monsoon season. UK aid support will help our response effort to limit the impact of the rains both in terms of potential damage to infrastructure from landslides and promoting hygiene.
To do this we are decommissioning unsafe latrines and building new, safe, sustainable ones that will be cleaned on a regular basis. We are not only making these latrines safer to protect against disease, but also for women and vulnerable people by building them in appropriate areas and making sure they are properly lit and dignified.
As the monsoon season sets in, it is more imperative than ever that cleaning happens regularly so that people can go to the toilet safely and to protect against the spread of disease.
From the onset of the crisis the UK has been a leading donor, and this week’s announcement of an additional £70 million of humanitarian support will help ensure hundreds of thousands of persecuted people who have fled neighbouring Burma will be better protected during this dangerous time.
UK aid supported work to prepare the Cox’s Bazar camps for the monsoon season began in January, when the UN estimated 102,000 men, women and children were living in areas at risk of flooding and 12,000 people were at risk from landslides.
Notes to editors
- The UK Government has contributed £129 million to the crisis since 25 August 2017. As part of this, £70 million announced on Monday 7 May is a new package of support, not previously allocated to this humanitarian programme.
- UK support totalling £4 million is enabling the Red Cross Red Crescent to provide up to 200,000 vulnerable people with food, healthcare, water and sanitation in response to the crisis in Bangladesh.
- This crisis resonates with the British public who have shown remarkable generosity raising £25.9 million for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal. This includes £5 million which has been matched pound for pound by the UK Government.
- There are approximately 941,000 people living in Cox’s Bazar camps. Of these 681,000 are new arrivals since August 2017.
- The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Red Cross Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network. The Movement is made up of 190 individual National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, working through 17 million volunteers who are dedicated to the Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Neutrality, Impartiality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.