Malaysia Is Building A Rohingya Hospital In Bangladesh. Here's What We Know

The government is providing aid to Rohingya refugees currently taking shelter at camps in Bangladesh.

Cover image via Bernama via Malay Mail Online

Malaysia has offered to build a hospital in its efforts to help the international humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingya people

Image via Bernama via NST

According to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysia will build a RM3.5 million field hospital at a refugee camp that is housing the Rohingya ethnic community in Bangladesh.

He made the announcement during a media briefing at the Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh yesterday, 16 October.

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has estimated that more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh since 25 August. Many of them are heavily dependent on humanitarian and welfare aid to survive, as they are deprived of food, water, health and other necessities.

Here's what we have learned so far about the government's proposal:

1. The hospital will have 50 beds and take in 50 patients initially

A photo taken at the Sadar Hospital on 25 September.

Image via AFP via NST

Ahmad Zahid revealed that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has given the permission to Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) Medical Corps, the Health Ministry, and the Defence Ministry to build the field hospital.

"At the moment, the government is waiting for the procedure set by the Bangladesh government to allow the construction of the hospital," he added.

It was learned that the hospital is expected to be ready within one month after the process of the procedure has been completed.

2. 35 medical staff members including specialist doctors, nurses and medical assistants

An eight-year-old boy was treated at the Sadar Hospital in Bangladesh for wounds sustained when the Myanmar army burned down his home.

Image via Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera

According to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, the ministry will be posting the medical staff members from Malaysia to Bangladesh to provide their services to the Rohingya refugees.

He said that the ministry has already prepared a complete list of medical personnel that are expected to be involved in the mission, adding that they are ready to depart the country at an appropriate time. 

3. Malaysia will be sending a humanitarian and welfare attache to overlook the relief efforts for Rohingya refugees there

Many Rohingyas are struggling to find a place for themselves at the already-overcrowded Kutupalong camp.

Image via UNHCR

Ahmad Zahid said that he would escalate the matter in a Cabinet meeting next week. He is anticipating that the Foreign Affairs Ministry would be able to initiate the administrative appointment immediately within 30 days.

"The attache, from the National Security Council (MKN) will be based at the Malaysian High Commission in Dhaka. He will assist the high commission’s office not only to coordinate but also ensure that every aid reaches the refugees," he was quoted as saying.

If everything goes as planned, Malaysia will be assigning a humanitarian and welfare attache for the very first time.

4. The Bangladesh government has expressed its appreciation for the Malaysian government's initiative in providing humanitarian assistance during this time of crisis

It was reported that Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, commended Malaysia for taking bold steps in reaching out to the persecuted Rohingyas in such pressing times.  

Meanwhile, Abul Hassan had apparently discussed with Ahmad Zahid on ways to work with other countries and international organisations to look for a long-term solution to resolve this crisis.

Understand more about what it means to be a refugee, and why these people are not the same as "illegal immigrants":