Rohingya refugees are facing the threat of disease, malnutrition and mudslides, the Disasters Emergency Committee has warned.
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since a violent military crackdown was launched in August, in what the UN has described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Nicola Peckett, head of communications at the DEC, which co-ordinates UK aid charities, said a “massive effort” was needed to prevent the spread of disease in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Some £47m pledged by the UK Government and £20m donated by the British public to a DEC appeal will not be enough to tackle the crisis, she said.
“The big issue is the muddy hillsides,” Ms Peckett told Sky News after visiting the camps.
“It’s the dry season now but when the next rainy season comes, in the middle of next year, you can see how it’s all going to slide down the hillside.
“There are latrines all over the hillside now… but it’s not going anywhere. It’s all got to be removed – ‘desludged’ as we say.
“Once it starts building up, there’s got to be an entire operation keeping all the sanitation working.”
Ms Peckett said counselling was being offered to refugees who had witnessed “terrible things” before fleeing Myanmar, also known as Burma.
There were reports of sexual violence against Rohingya women and entire villages being burned to the ground.
“I was surprised how willing people are to talk,” Ms Peckett said.
“I think they want their experiences heard because they want the world to hear what’s happened to them.”
Ms Peckett said money donated by the British to the DEC appeal for the Rohingya was “saving lives”.
“Every small donation – be it £10 or £20 – will potentially be saving a child’s life,” she said.
“With the water and sanitation, I could see what a massive effort it is to keep a lid on communicable diseases spreading.”
:: To donate to the DEC appeal, visit donation.dec.org.uk/myanmar.