Poor living conditions put refugees at risk

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Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — Neighbourhoods with large numbers of refugees are turning into hotbeds for diseases due to poor living conditions.

There is rubbish strewn everywhere and water remains stagnant in clogged drains as children play along the corridors of their homes in pockets of communities in Ampang.

Many Myanmar nationals live in Taman Bukit Teratai, Kampung Tasik Permai, and their surrounding areas.

Some of them are sick, but refuse to seek medical help. They head over to nearby Chinese medicine shops instead. Many are unaware about the rotavirus outbreak in their neighbourhood.

A recent visit by Malay Mail to those two areas revealed their unhygienic living conditions.

Maryam Khatu Sayad Hussein, 31, who makes traditional delicacies for a living, said she rarely took her children to the Ampang Hospital nearby because it was “too costly”.

“We are charged more than the local people and it depends on the type of illness. I was once asked to pay RM200 when I took my child there for a check-up,” she said.

“It’s cheaper for me to go to the nearby medicine shop. It will cost me not more than RM20.”

Maryam said almost everyone in her neighbourhood in Kampung Tasik Permai had some form of illness.

“My husband just died from tuberculosis. I have diabetes, and my daughter is always sick,” she said.

“Many of my neighbours suffer from stomachaches and heart problems.”

Asked if she was aware of the rotavirus outbreak, she said: “I’ve never heard of it. Is it harmful?”

Abdul Khalam Hassin, 42, said it was difficult to keep the compound clean as people tended to store their items outside their homes.

“There is not enough space inside our houses so we had to keep items outside. Rubbish is only cleared once every three days,” he said.

“When it rains, it floods and the water level reaches our knees. Our children keep getting sick.

“It’s terrible for us when everyone in the house falls sick but there’s nothing much we can do about it.”