Medical Teams International to develop strategy to aid Myanmar refugees

As Rohingya Muslims are facing ethnic cleansing by a Buddhist majority in Myanmar, Pacific Northwest members of Medical Teams International (MTI) — which has an office in Redmond — is preparing an assessment team to figure out how they can best assist refugees.

Around 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar recently into neighboring Bangladesh.

MTI Global Ambassador Joe DiCarlo said they are fleeing following persecution from the Myanmar government after attacks on government border posts by Rohingya resistance groups.

“The response then of the government has been severe, and for safety, people have been leaving,” DiCarlo said.

Many of these refugees have been leaving on foot and trekking across rough terrain for days or overseas to find safety.

But the country many are fleeing to is itself hard pressed, DiCarlo said.

“It’s putting even more pressure on the scarce resources that they have, so the international community must respond,” DiCarlo said.

DiCarlo said MTI is responding by sending an assessment team to work with partner organizations, including World Concern and Food for the Hungry, to see what is needed on the ground.

This includes providing health care, food and clean water.

The organization has responded to other disaster situations, including the Nepal earthquake. MTI was founded in 1979 by a businessman in Salem, Oregon, who saw the killing fields in Cambodia, DiCarlo said.

“This kind of work is in our DNA and it’s where we’ve developed a very strong competency,” he said.

Common injuries they could help treat in similar situations include providing immunizations, malnutrition, malaria, gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds, diarrhea and cholera.

“When you have large groups of people living in unsanitary conditions, we have to watch out for any kind of disease outbreaks,” DiCarlo said.

Once the assessment team figures out what is needed, it will return and the organization will develop a strategy to provide aid.

DiCarlo said this could include sending supplies, doctors and nurses.

Donations to the organization can be made at the disaster relief page.