Caritas staff struggle to cope with the needs of thousands of refugees seeking aid at a distribution point in Cox's Bazar Oct. 8 (Photo courtesy of Caritas Chittagong)
Caritas has provided food and other relief supplies to about 70,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from the ongoing military crackdown in Myanmar.
Caritas is a welfare arm of the Catholic Church and its assistance is being funded by United States-based Catholic Relief Services.
Items such as lentils and soybean oil, as well as cooking and eating utensils, were given to some 10,000 Rohingya families in the past week.
They are residing in makeshift camps in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, according to James Gomes of Caritas.
Bangladesh faces a humanitarian crisis sparked by an influx of more than 500,000 Rohingya.
Various government and non-government organizations such as Caritas, as well as United Nations agencies, are assisting.
The Bangladesh government had so far given permission to Caritas to conduct an initial two-month stage of relief operations.
In the second stage, Caritas plans to work with government officials to provide shelters as well as medical and educational facilities.
Farmer Sharif Mian, 54, head of an eight-member family now living in a Cox’s Bazar camp, is grateful for the support.
While others have given food, Caritas had also provided badly needed items needed for cooking, such as pots, Sharif said.
Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, president of Caritas Bangladesh, said the plight of Rohingya saddened him.
"The condition of Rohingyas is really pathetic and inhuman," he said.
The prelate said the Myanmar military and government must be held accountable for grave human rights violations.
"Bangladesh has done a good job by accepting Rohingya, but cannot keep them for good," he said.
"Myanmar must take them back and grant them citizenship and provide them with basic services and security."