When it rained, kids clung to roofs at Cox’s Bazar
She knew she was in for a tough assignment.
But Miss Noor Azlina, 31, a senior staff nurse, was still taken aback by what she saw at the Rohingya refugee camp in Balukhali, not far from Cox's Bazar, a town on the south-east coast of Bangladesh.
She told The New Paper last week: "I expected it to be bad, but I was still overwhelmed when I saw the refugees' desperate situation."
About 600,000 refugees are crammed into the Balukhali campsite, one of the biggest camps near Cox's Bazar.
Miss Noor was part of one of the two Singapore Red Cross (SRC) teams sent to Cox's Bazar last month to treat refugees.
Almost one million Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority from the Rakhine state of Myanmar, have fled to Cox's Bazar since last August.
The most common illnesses seen in patients were diarrhoea, respiratory problems, skin infections and malnourishment- caused by overcrowding and lack of sanitation.
Nurse Jessica John Posko Amalaraj, 25, who was also on the team, added: "If a baby falls sick, everyone else in the tent will have the same symptoms soon after."
The SRC told TNP that refugees were crammed into makeshift shelters, each the size of an HDB living room, and children had to hold onto the roofs during heavy rain.
Another nurse, Miss Jasmine Tsai, 22, said she went to Bangladesh as she could not ignore the refugees' plight.
Dr Pang Wee Yang, 40, a consultant geriatrician who was in one of the SRC's medical teams, turned to home remedies such as gargling with saltwater when his clinic ran out of sore-throat medicine. Each clinic saw almost 100 patients daily.
The situation at the medical posts was chaotic as refugees cut queues and fought with each other to see the doctors.
Miss Amalaraj met some appreciative refugees, like a 100-year-old man who prayed for the team after being treated.
She said: "He was so grateful and it made us very happy."
The two teams have returned to Singapore.
SRC is now recruiting volunteer medical workers for two more missions to Cox's Bazar later this year.