By Aman Ullah
“The Rohingya Children Crisis as Grave Humanitarian Disaster of the Era and it is a highly vulnerable hour for humanity,” DESPO-Asia
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is annually observed on the second Wednesday of October to raise the profile of disaster risk reduction. It also encourages people and governments to participate in building more resilient communities and nations.
Many people around the world have lost their lives, homes or access to essential facilities, such as hospitals, due to natural disasters, including earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis, heavy flooding, hurricanes or cyclones. Some of these disasters have caused economic damage to some countries. The UN acknowledges that education, training, and information exchanges are effective ways to help people become better equipped in withstanding natural disasters.
On December 22, 1989, the UN General Assembly designated the second Wednesday of October as the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. This event was to be observed annually during the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, 1990-1999. On December 20, 2001, the assembly decided to maintain the observance to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
International Day for Disaster Reduction is a day to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their risk to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). It’s also a day to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.
The 2015’s theme for the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was ‘Knowledge for Life’. The focus of this year’s IDDR was on the traditional, indigenous and local knowledge which complement modern science and add to an individual’s and societies’ resilience.
In Asia, this year, the special focus of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (UN-IDDR) observances across the region was on DESPO-Asia Appraisal’s indicators, including the needs and priority recommendations for a better planning and understanding of disaster risk in disasters prone communities. IDDR 2015 intended to switch on and amplify the critical DESPO indications, now and for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
The first Asian ‘Post-Disaster’s Epidemiological Susceptibility & Pandemic Outbreaks (Post-DESPO) assessment report was prepared by SAIRI Multiversity’s research collaboration with the SAARC-ASEAN Post-doc Academia and UNESCO.
The appraisal has been primed under the aegis of UNESCO Adjoined Monitoring Cell for Asian floods 2015, by a cross-regional group of 45 interdisciplinary researchers and epidemiologists, mainly from the South Asian region. The cross-disciplinary investigative group led by SAIRI’s multi-disciplinary principal investigator (P.I.) Professor Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi from Pakistan, prepared the appraisal in collaboration with UNESCO chair for watershed management at University of Punjab, Lahore.
DRR experts and academics from the Southeast Asian region have extended strong recommendations to address the impeded set-back, by incorporating the DESPO indicators in the disaster management policy frame-works.
The 1st Asian ‘Post-Disaster Epidemiological Susceptibilities and Pandemic Outbreak’ assessment, (DESPO-Asia Appraisal 2015), austerely warns of the worsening situation in the conjoint ‘two-fold’ or ‘bi-effect aftermath’ of cyclone KOMEN and high tides from the heavy monsoon.
In most of the hard-hit areas of Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar and Pakistan poorly maintained sewers are overflowing, carrying along heavy toxins and remnant industrial waste thus contaminating the drinking water supplies. Many samples from the disaster effected and IDPs camps bear high toxicity concentrations and strong evidence suggests the presence of arsenic along with a considerable number of other toxins coming from industrial sewers. And if, the situation prevails for another 10-15 days, it would be emerging as a host to a number of hazardous ailments, especially among pregnant women and small children.
DESPO warns of more cases bearing the disease-pattern in near future. Most of the identified cases are within the flood affected areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar. However the same cannot be ruled out for India and Pakistan.
Major indicators have been identified suggesting the strong potential of pandemic outbreaks such as cholera and diarrheal diseases that are directly linked to cell mediated immunity (CMI), mal-nutrition and mal-absorption.
Impaired absorption of water, electrolytes and minerals causes impaired formation of Micelle + C complex, which in turn results in multiple mal-absorption complications. The presence of either both types of deficiencies, or any one of the above mentioned factors can seriously affect the C.M.I. (cell mediated immunity) leading to pathological complications in young babies.
Malnutrition rates have become thrice the emergency threshold in Tier-3 (India, Bangladesh) and Tier-4 (Myanmar) zones.
Cross-referential data-statistics obtained from reliable sources, determined even prior to the present flooding scenario that, in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the long-persecuted ethnic minority Rohingya’s children confined in squalid detention camps are having acute malnutrition rates from 30%-35%, which is far beyond of 15% level set by the World Health Organization.
“The European Community Humanitarian Office, reported that the area had acute malnutrition rates hitting 23 percent, which was still beyond that of the emergency level declared by WHO,” relates further DESPO appraisal, citing from SAIRI report for UN, on the subject.
There remains a considerable number of people, especially the children, the elderly and pregnant women, who live along the coastal belts, the river shores and road-sides who remain predisposed to consequential vulnerabilities, indicatingly points DESPO.
There are heightened concerns about the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases such as water-borne diseases, vector-borne diseases and air-borne diseases.
In addition, acute respiratory infections, in areas of overcrowding and where water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) systems have been disrupted.
Myanmar’s Ongoing Discrimination Highlighted in DESPO-Asia 2015:
The flood has overshadowed many apprehensions besides the Rohingyas’ worst humiliation. Despite that the UN has declared an emergency situation, Myanmar persists on it’s long-enduring discrimination.
The ‘flood-soaked’ are predisposed to become the ‘blood-soaked.’ Rohingya children’s pre-existing crisis, after entering the post-flood situation constitutes essentially, a ‘state of humanitarian emergency,’ and therefore, is being declared unanimously hereby a ‘Level-3 Emergency’ situation, according to the institutionally laid out ER parameters.
“It is a highly vulnerable hour for humanity,” states the UNESCO ascribed DESPO-Asia’s ‘full-bench’ 45 members DRR experts quorum, primed by SAIRI Post-doc Multiversity for the United Nations MDGs.
As they are not allowed to stay in the emergency shelters, nor are they permitted to leave the flood-soaked vicinities.
DESPO points out that the directives sent by the authorities for the phases of emergency response and rehabilitation, dearth certain methodological facets on technical accounts, which are inevitable to accomplish the set targets concerning the DRR.
The Appalling Condition in Myanmar:
Rohingya people are effectively confined in a state of statelessness, and are deprived of all kinds of basic civil rights including emergency medical relief, the necessary provisions of food and water, and other humanitarian aid. The situation escalates when it comes to children, pregnant women or the disabled.
UNICEF describes the situation of chronic and acute malnutrition in the Rakhine state, where the Rohingyas are largely located.
Children living in Rakhine are more likely to suffer from chronic malnutrition, more likely to be malnourished than the average Myanmar child, with almost 50 per cent of children stunted.
“The UN, rights groups and other agencies are urged to rescue them from the situation – if they feel obligation to save the precious lives of these desperate children,” compels DESPO-Asia 2015.
“The floods are hitting children and families who are already very vulnerable, including those living in camps in Rakhine state,” said Shalini Bahuguna, an official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Beyond the immediate impact, the floods will have a longer-term impact on the livelihood of these families,” she warned. Arakan has already been declared a calamity-hit area, she maintained.
The desperate and lonely children of this longsuffering ethnic minority Rohingya, are facing the same extents of the pre-existing heavy jeopardize, even in the floods-emergency situation, with ‘multiplicative factors’.
In contexts of the previously prevalent circumstances, and a convoluted interplay of complex and tortuous factors, Rohingya children’s worsening situation is effectually getting inward-bound to a ‘loggia of multi-factorial endangerment’ having a a surplus of ‘multiplicative factors’.
SAIRI, prior to the present appraisal, in a separate report to the UN, has documented the nature, extent and magnitude of the ongoing persecutions and the unimaginably desperate circumstances, that these children are pre-disposed to.
Notably as well as awfully, the international community is standing aside, silently looking at what is happening along-side.
No one dares to thumbs-up for the actual severity of the situation. No one stands or comes forth to open up lucidly-clear talks with Myanmar, on accounts of hard-line ethico-moral standings and humanistic boundaries, that everyone is inexorably bound to remain within.
Myanmar’s Sittwe Camps detainee Rohingya children already being long-starved are converting more sick, dehydrated malnourished and deep-traumatized after watching the horrendous scenes of merciless ‘inhumanness’, and unprecedented brutality long manifested upon them.
In fact, prior to the present disastrous situation, they are living in a far precarious, pre-existing ever-worsening state-of-affairs, that has been constituted by a dangerous game of enflaming sentiments of xenophobic racial inhumanness that has crossed all such extents, which can be expected or even imagined and thought of!
Closing Plea for Myanmar’s Dying-alive Rohingya Children:
These dying-alive, ‘flood-soaked’, and finally ultimately prone be ‘blood-soaked’ lonely Rohingya children are once again ‘on their knees’ before the global community-with their blank eyes looking for anyone to come forth to rescue them – with their horror-struck eyes engraved with mind-numbing scenes-already enough traumatized after having seen their homes burned down – their mothers beleaguered – their small siblings beaten mercilessly and brutally – their fathers’ heads smashed on roads and streets inhumanely – now call on the collective conscience of the world – the UN – the trans-regional hierarchies, and – the entire humanity – to take a ‘moral stand’ by mounting an urgent response to this most ‘vulnerable hour’…!!!
“By means of the DESPO appraisal’s testimony, the SAIRI Post-doc Multiversity hereby re-voices and re-supplicates to the global community that:
“These long suffering ‘stateless’ and ‘restless’ entities-the Rohingyas and their desperate children-are calling on the entire humanity to rescue them promptly-right now.”
“These glimmering flowers are being reduced and converted to dusky coffins, floating on the Andaman Sea.”
“The world has become a global village; we are all inhabitants of the same planet to which they belong, and-where alongside, they are being oppressed, thrashed, beleaguered and de-humanized-their homes being burned down-their heads being smashed on roads-their bodies being ruined and crumpled in streets-their small children being enslaved-their women being made sex-slaves-and, due to the inapproachability and inaccessibility to food and water they are forced to drink their own urine to survive…!!!
They are like us all-their lives are as precious as ours–their small babies are like our own small kids – the children that are now crying to seek a rescue – ‘begging-for-their-lives’ – these desperate kids are not, but like ours…!!!”
“We have to raise voice for those with little or no voice!”
“And, if by now, we fail, therefore, to respond at this vulnerable hour, or if the global community continues to shy away from taking a ‘moral stand’, then, there can be no more justifiable reason for the pursuit of a humane society or for persisting and sticking to even the least realms of humaneness!” pleads SAIRI’s principal investigator, Professor Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi.
“We all have to strive for an ‘immediate-resolve’ of the ‘Rohingya Children Crisis’ as a ‘Moral Imperative’ – if not a legal requisite,” urges and presages categorically Prof. Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi.