Association of Medical Doctors of ASIA, founded in 1984, Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 1995








Activity Report #9: Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Working with UNRWA Doctors

Publication date:2018-06-15
Harumi Oshitani, AMDA ER Network
Translated by Yuichiro Chikamochi

Feb 2018 Report

Dr. Ali, one of the UNRWA doctors,
providing medical support at the AMDA clinic (left),
and a Bangladeshi doctor

Medical Relief Operation for the Rohingya Refugees in Cox's Bazar with doctors from UNRWA

From 1st to 13th February 2018, AMDA dispatched a nurse, Harumi Oshitani, to provide medical support at the Rohingya refugee camp. Ms. Oshitani made the following report regarding her experiences working with two UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East) doctors who were also dispatched to the AMDA clinic:

The doctors from UNRWA were refugees themselves. They sought opportunities to study abroad and strived to become doctors under difficult circumstances. Through their eyes, I was able to learn how the Rohingya people viewed themselves in the given environment at the relief camp.

What surprised me was the fact that there were few cases of psychological complaints. According to the doctors, this was due to the lack of an environment in which refugees could openly share their emotional pain.

Thanks to one of the UNRWA doctors who studied in Bangladesh, I was able to hear some of the accounts of the refugees. Among the people I talked to was 29-year-old Saber Ahammad, one of the community leaders in the camp. He said that his whole family ran for their lives when their village was bombarded by a helicopter. In the incident, seven people were shot dead.

I asked him what had been the biggest problem as far as the life in the camp was concerned. “It’s the sewer treatment,” he said. Ahammad was uneasy about the upcoming rainy season as the vicinity of the residential district would likely be flooded with untreated sewage. Like anywhere else in the camp, sanitation management had always been difficult.

The doctors also said a clinic specialized in lifestyle-related illnesses might be needed. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not an easy task when evacuation life is prolonged.

Contrary to what I had expected, though, the refugees didn’t seem to mind too much about such inconveniences. The most important thing for them was the ability to live safely with their families. Many of them said that life at the camp was far better than living in a life-threatening environment. In fact, what I regarded as an unfavorable living condition turned out to be a haven for them.

It puzzled me to the extent that their response was quite different from what I had imagined. However, the doctors told me that safety was the most essential thing in one’s life. “General matters such as sanitation or living environment would come second. Once their safety is secured, only then do you start worrying about living conditions,” one of the UNRWA doctors said. Never had I thought that the peace that many of us often take for granted could mean so much. And, despite the atrocities they suffered, they still wish to return to Myanmar once their safety is assured back home.

Even after this mission is over, I hope that I can continue providing assistance to improve all facets of their lives, and help them reconstruct their lives once they make it back home.

    •  GPSP Multi-National Medical Mission (Peace Building)
    •  Bangladesh
    •  Myanmar
    •  2018
    •  for the Rohingya Refugees