“All of our homes were burnt,” according to Rama*, who came here with her extended family of eighteen people. 24 year old Amir* walks up to us, limping slowly, his right calve wrapped in a dirty bandage. “I was inside my home when they came,” he says, referring to soldiers. “They killed my young son and daughter. I was shot.” He speaks in a quiet and matter-of-fact tone. Like so many here, he is obviously traumatized. It emerges that his parents are also dead and he has been unable to locate his wife.
The authorities and agencies tasked with responding to this enormous refugee crisis appear to have managed well so far – but the task is huge. There is only one narrow, traffic-clogged main road accessing the camps, the side lanes clogged with mud and thronged with people. Basic food distributions are under way, simple tube wells have been sunk, and clean water is being trucked in.
“We know from experience that the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe is very real,” according to Concern’s Head of Emergency Operations, Ros O’Sullivan. “With this many people in such confined conditions, the threat of disease is high. And the cyclone season is approaching rapidly, leaving these makeshift shelters extremely vulnerable.”