FACT team responding to the influx of more than 200.000 people from Myanmar

In September, I was deployed to Bangladesh as part of the FACT team responding to the influx of people from Myanmar. In the three weeks I was there, more than 200.000 people crossed into Bangladesh. Many arrived dehydrated, exhausted and wounded, carrying malnourished and distressed children. The harrowing stories of family members killed before their eyes, homes burnt to the ground and sexual violence affected us all as we conducted assessments in the overcrowded and muddy makeshift camps that had no end in sight. My job was to assess the psychosocial needs of the affected population and develop an emergency plan of action together with my colleagues from Health, Shelter, WASH and Relief. For the first time in FACT history, we also had a team member working on Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) and a colleague seconded from ICRC working on Restoring Family Links (RFL).  We worked closely together to ensure that mental health and psychosocial guidelines, Minimum Standard Commitments for Gender and Diversity and RFL were integrated across sectors and part of the design, planning and implementation of the operation. It was hard to leave, knowing how desperate the situation was in the camps, but as I left, the ERU teams were up and running and for the first time in an emergency operation, I felt confident that we – as a Movement - will be better able to protect people and meet their psychosocial needs, thanks to a fantastic FACT team leader and team who fully embraced our integrated approach.


Zara Elaine Sejberg, Regional MENA Psychosocial delegate