OBAT Helpers — “When a refugee camp becomes a semi-permanent settlement”

Alexander Walter, Archinect, October 1, 2019
Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh is home to more than a half-million Rohingya Muslim refugees. Photo: John Owens.

With the prospect of the Rohingya not being able to return to Myanmar for years to come, the prototypes in Camp 4 Extension reflect how aid and relief organizations are finding new ways to manage the long-term needs of the most populous refugee camp in the world. — CityLab

CityLab reports on the latest efforts to drastically improve living conditions inside Kutupalong Refugee Camp, the world’s largest camp of its kind and currently home to more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees that fled from ethnic and religious persecution in Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh.

“Designers in the U.S. are helping to facilitate these dreams for more stable refugee camps,” write Victoria Milko and Clare Hammond in their CityLab article about recent design and infrastructure improvements.

“Nadyeli Quiroz and John David Wagner at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design are embarking on a year-long collaboration with OBAT Helpers, an Indianapolis-based community nonprofit, to explore how to create varied functional spaces within the camps, such as outdoor courtyards or provisional pop-up designs.”

But making lasting progress is tricky. The Bangladeshi government insists on the temporary status of the camp — emphasizing that its Rohingya population would be returning to Myanmar in the near future — and has reportedly banned the construction of permanent housing.

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Since October 2017, OBAT Helpers has been working inside the camp to help improve access to health care, education and economic empowerment to the Rohingya population. OBAT Helpers is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit founded to care for refugees in Bangladesh.

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If you would like to get involved with the work OBAT is doing here or abroad, please visit obathelpers.org to learn more.