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Stateless and Starving Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh

by on March 9, 2010

Physicians for Human Rights has found that in recent months Bangladeshi authorities have waged an unprecedented campaign of arbitrary arrest, illegal expulsion, and forced internment against Burmese refugees. Critical levels of acute malnutrition and a surging camp population without access to food aid will cause more deaths from starvation and disease if the humanitarian crisis is not addressed.

What do health and human rights advocates do when they come across egregious abuses by a government, like PHR did three weeks ago in Bangladesh?

  • Phase 1: Conduct in-depth interviews with survivors, corroborate their testimonies, and speak off-the-record with every humanitarian worker and government official on the ground.
  • Phase 2: Design an emergency household survey to measure malnutrition and food insecurity in the population.
  • Phase 3: Take photos. Lots of them. One out of 50 may be good enough for print. (And don’t forget to get informed consent!)
  • Phase 4: Analyze the qualitative and quantitative data to ensure a robust report, write like mad, and pitch it to the media. With a little luck, they may bite.

Associated Press broke the story last night, appearing minutes later in the New York Times. Other coverage has followed in numerous outlets, including the Boston Globe, AFP, and BBC.

>> Read all about it: Stateless and Starving: Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh

Post script: A BIG thanks to my colleague, Dr. Parveen Parmar, whose emergency-physician calm in the field made all the difference in completing this emergency assessment.


Places: Burma, Bangladesh

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