Rohingya crisis: Woking nurse describes "unhygienic" makeshift camp in Bangladesh

September 23, 2018
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A Woking nurse who flew out to Bangladesh to help some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees that have fled persecution in Myanmar has told of the “overcrowded” and “unhygienic” conditions they are living in.

Karen Marshall, who works at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, has visited Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sudan and Sri Lanka among other places in the last 22 years.

Her most recent trip was to Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, where more than 650,000 Muslim Rohingyas have settled in makeshift camps since August 2017 after fleeing violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

Karen described her month in Bangladesh to Surrey Live: “We had a lot of road traffic collisions and a lot of children with very bad septic abscesses in their muscles.

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“We also had a lot of emergency cesarean sections – some babies survived but a lot of them died which was hard.

“You hear about these places in the media but seeing them yourself is very different.

“It is very overcrowded, people are living in very unhygienic conditions.

Monsoon season setting in
(Image: Lynette Nyman/IFRC)

“The earth is made of sand so when it rains it just washes the land away. The camp population then have to rebuild their homes.”

The case of one particular girl made a lasting impression on Karen.

She said: “I will always remember one 12-year-old-girl who was admitted around the time of Eid.

“She had a huge infected abscess on the side of her neck and was also partially sighted – she was in a real bad way.

“She was brought in by her 16-year-old brother without her parents. We never found out what happened to them.

Karen Marshall

“We put her to sleep and performed the surgery and then the next day she was sitting up in bed with a huge smile on her face wearing a beautiful new dress that she had been given for Eid.

“That image of her sticks in my mind to this day – she just looked so lovely.”

Karen has been doing this work since 1996.

When asked about what motivates her, she said: “It is about trying to make a small difference in somebody’s life.

“I think the most difficult place I visited was Kosovo working for an organisation which was looking after unaccompanied children. That was quite difficult to deal with.

The Kutupalong refugee camp
(Image: A J Ghani)

“Afghanistan was also a challenge in terms of access. It was so hard to get anywhere we needed to be.”

She added: “My husband was in the military so he knows what it is to be away for prolonged periods of time and he knows the feeling of wanting to make a difference.

“The longest time I have been away is a year but I don’t do that anymore because it is quite difficult to reconnect with people when I come back.

“I don’t think my husband minds though. In fact, I think he quite likes the time alone.” Karen laughed.

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/rohingya-woking-nurse-describes-unhygienic-15162834


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