DRG Bangladesh Team 2: Field Report: 21 October, 2017

by Andrew Strunk, DRG Logistics Manager

Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh


Andrew Strunk and Dr Rafiq

I arrived in Cox’s Bazaar today as a forward element for the DRG Team 2 deployment, commencing on 25th October. The purpose of this early arrival is to further build relationships with local NGO’s and to form a credible intelligence picture without having to rely on second-to-third-hand information.

My first meeting was with Rakibul Hoque, the Inter-Sector Project Coordinator for Hope International – a Bengali NGO with numerous live projects in response to the Rohingya crisis. Following this a discussion was held with Blanche Tax, the Protection sector coordinator for International Organisation of Migration, regarding sexual violence training for our team, as well as organising for the distribution of the Days for Girls reusable feminine hygiene products that DRG members will be bringing with them from Australia. Further meetings were planned with Care International and BRAC, the largest NGO in Bangladesh.

Most children we encountered were coughing or complaining of fever and diarrhoea. Women were describing difficulty in accessing healthcare for sick infants while we also identified some previous patients of ours with serious wounds who informed us that they had not received proper wound care following our departure.

Once these meetings were complete, our Bengali translator Mr Moslem and I loaded up the DRG van and made our way 90 minutes south of Cox’s Bazaar to Burma Para, a spontaneous settlement where DRG Team 1 spent the bulk of its time during the first deployment.

IMG_5817We wanted to gain a solid intelligence picture, particularly looking at the provision of healthcare in this area. Dr Rafique Ayub – a local Rohingya doctor living within the settlement who we worked with previously – had continued to provide reports following Team 1’s departure detailing insufficient healthcare services to meet the needs of a growing camp.

Following a two-hour walk through of the entire settlement, it became clear that although health care facilities had arrived, they were unable to meet the needs of the large (and growing) population.

Multiple clinics marked on organisational response maps also didn’t exist at all. The ground-level data collected today from Burma Para will be provided back to International Organisation for Migration, who are overseeing the response to the Rohingya influx.

Most children we encountered were coughing or complaining of fever and diarrhoea. Women were describing difficulty in accessing healthcare for sick infants while we also identified some previous patients of ours with serious wounds, who informed us that they had not received proper wound care following our departure.

A very positive sign, however, was a large bamboo structure in the early stages of construction, which we were told was to be a MSF clinic upon completion. This should go a long way towards plugging the gap that appears to currently exist in the care for the Rohingya people in Burma Para.


Burma Para Camp- growing by the day.

It was a difficult day in the settlement in some respects as we were used to being an ‘active field team’ (ie: actually treating patients!). However, today we were filling more of a coordination position- a role vital to the overall response picture, but difficult to fulfil in practice. It was incredibly difficult to be recognised by people within Burma Para as health care professionals, who then came to us for help, only to find we were unable to do so on this occasion.

Dr Rafique also provided us with a list of medical supplies and medications that he is either short on, or completely run out of. This list will be paid for by DRG donations and stocked by pharmacies in the Cox’s Bazaar area, before being delivered to Dr Rafique on Sunday so that he continue his fantastic work in providing care for his people.

If you would like to help our mission, you can donate to the Backpacker Medics cause here:   https://chuffed.org/project/bpmdrg-bangladesh#/supporters

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DRG Team 2 to deploy to Bangladesh

E6FE1127-6F5A-4912-9BAE-DD1E54D083C1-1022-000001AB0D5D5808The Backpacker Medics Disaster Response Group will be deploying a second team to Bangladesh to assist in the ever-worsening Rohingya Refugee Crisis.

Our team has been working furiously to obtain the correct permits and collaborations and we are very pleased to announce that we have been able to do this. We will be working under the umbrella of local organisations.

DRG Team 2 will hit the ground on October 25th, 2017 and will be in-country for 14 days.

Many have asked “…why send a second team? Isn’t the crisis over..?”. To which we vehemently reply: “It is FAR from over!!!!”.

The very latest situational report from the International Organisation for Migration paints a very bleak picture:

“The Needs and Population Monitoring (NPM) Round 6 was finalized on 16 October, and has identified 582,000 new arrivals since 25 August, 2017…It has been reported that as of 17 October, 2017, an estimated 10-15,000 people are currently stranded on the border close to Anjuman Para, Palong Khali, but are unable to move further into Bangladesh. The group of people are staying on levies between paddy fields with limited food and water…” (ISCG Report, 17/10/17)

Further footage shot by the UNHCR just a few days ago confirms the severity of the situation…

YouTube: https://youtu.be/Xvxna-YGdL8

You can help by clicking the link below, or visiting our crowdfunding page: https://chuffed.org/project/bpmdrg-bangladesh


The Backpacker Medics Disaster Response Group is deploying teams to Bangladesh to assist in the ever-worsening Rohingya Refugee Crisis. You can help the mission by donating a small amount now. EVERY cent donated goes towards medicine, medical supplies, shelter and helping the Rohingya Refugees.


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Rohingya Doctors in dire need of support…



Rohingya Dr Ayub

During the recent BPM Disaster Relief Group deployment to Bangladesh, the crew befriended and worked closely with two Rohingya refugee Doctors.

Whilst they left all their supplies and some equipment when they left the, our team knew that there would be dire need in coming months. Yesterday we had word from our local contact, Mr Moslem (pictured, below right), who told us:





Mr Moslem

I have have had several discussions with Rohingya Dr. Ayub and he informed me that there is 3-4 small medical clinics in the refugee camp, but the quality of treatment is very very poor and there is no sufficient supply of medicines or other supplies. He said that day-by-day the refugee patients are deteriorating and no patients are getting proper treatment they deserve, such as your team delivered. They need a continuous, organised medical service, along with counselling and ongoing supply. The situation is very dire.”


IMG_5351As we have been for a number of weeks now, the BPM team are working furiously to obtain official permits and partnerships to work in Bangladesh again. Given the situation, you can only imagine how hard this is!

Simultaneously, we are working on ways to deliver the required supplies and medicines to our Rohingya Doctors- Doctor Ayub and Doctor Rowfique. We are close to solving this dilemma, however could us any support possible!

If you think you can spare a few dollars, please visit our crowdfunding page: https://chuffed.org/project/bpmdrg-bangladesh


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Plant-Powered FUNdraiser!

Our friends at PLANT POWERED PERTH will be holding an awesome fundraiser on Saturday November 4th to support BPM’s work with the Rohingya population in Bangladesh. If you’re in Perth and looking for a great night out with awesome food, prizes and fun people, then get along! All the details are on the flyer below, and you can book by following this link: www.trybooking.com/SIYH

Plant Powered Perth Quiz Night Fundraiser

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The Rohingya Crisis continues…

Whilst the BPM Disaster Response Group is working hard to facilitate a second mission as soon as possible, the Rohingya Crisis continues in Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya continue to flee targeted violence in Myanmar, including children who perish daily whilst trying to escape in hazardous boat voyages. There seems to be no end in sight and the suffering is immense.

The  BPM Disaster Response Group are currently working tirelessly to obtain the correct documentation and official permissions that will allow us to send another aid deployment. We hope to have a concrete update on our progress very soon!

If you have a few dollars to spare, PLEASE HELP! You can donate to the Backpacker Medics cause here:   https://chuffed.org/project/bpmdrg-bangladesh#/supporters


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DRG Hits the airwaves…

This afternoon BPM DRG Team Member and all-round legend spoke to 2GB Radio in Sydney about the plight of the Rohingya refugees and the work we’ve been doing over there. Have a listen below…


Brad Stewart (L) and Andrew Strunk (R).

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DRG returns, but work has only just begun…

The BPM Disaster Response Group has returned home safely, however our work helping the Rohingya refugees has only just begun. Without doubt, their persecution will continue and we hope to be able to help. BUT…we can really use your support! If you have a few dollars to donate, just click on the link below. If you can’t spare the change, then please share our message! What’s going on in Myanmar is simply horrible and these innocent people need our help. 

Help the BPM Disaster Response Group- even just a few dollars will help!  
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