More than 20 percent of Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugees are struggling with mental health issues, a grim result of the abuse and trauma suffered in Myanmar, an official from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
The statistics were shared on World Mental Health Day, which is marked on Oct. 10 every year, and seeks to highlight the plight of nearly a million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and shared by the WHO, there were 14,819 consultations for mental health conditions registered by the district health department among the Rohingya in 2019.
From January to now the figure has jumped to nearly 20,000.
Most cases were addressed by healthcare centers at the camps, where Rohingya patients were given counseling and treatment.
“In the aftermath of a crisis, one person in five (22 percent) is estimated to have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia,” WHO spokesperson Catalin Bercaru told Arab News. “The psychosocial and social impacts of emergencies may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected populations.”
The Rohingya have endured decades of abuse and trauma in Myanmar, beginning in the 1970s when hundreds of thousands sought refuge in Bangladesh.
Between 1989 and 1991 an additional 250,000 fled when a military crackdown followed a popular uprising and Burma was renamed Myanmar. In 1992, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a repatriation deal that led to thousands of Rohingya returning to Rakhine state. The exodus to Bangladesh resumed a few years ago.