“Life for a refugee is hellish”
“No one wants to be a refugee” says Faruk,* a Rohingya refugee living in a camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. “The life we have here is not easy. We live in an open prison.”
For Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, living in overcrowded camps for the past three years was already affecting their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic added even more restrictions, and with life in the camps showing no signs of improving, the mental health toll is rising.
“Life for a refugee is hellish and every day is the same,” says Faruk. “I can’t travel outside the area of the camps as we need special authorisation to leave, and it is only granted under special circumstances such as for medical care or emergencies.”
“Sometimes I bite myself to see if I can feel something and I have tried to commit suicide,” Faruk says.
The strain on Rohingya refugees is evident in the increasing number of mental health services that were provided by MSF staff in Cox’s Bazar in the last year—MSF’s figures show an estimated 61 per cent increase in the number of people seeking mental health services when compared to the year prior. Our figures also show an estimated 74 per cent increase in group mental health consultations and a 51 per cent increase in individual mental health consultations in 2020.