Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh
Rohingyas live in the Cox’s Bazar camps
of Rohingya refugees are newborns and children
The Rohingya people have experienced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar (formerly Burma). Since August 2017, around 744,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh, fleeing the violence and joining the existing Rohingya communities in the country. There are therefore now over 910,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, of whom 854,000 live in the camps of Cox’s Bazar.
Almost 902,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in southern Bangladesh
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live in extremely precarious conditions
The majority of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live in 34 very overcrowded camps, the largest of which accommodates 734,645 people. It is currently the largest humanitarian camp in the world. Despite the humanitarian response provided by around a hundred NGOs, the Rohingyas’ situation is still extremely precarious. The number of refugees in Cox’s Bazar has almost tripled, with major impacts on the environment and the livelihoods of the host communities. This situation is further exacerbated by the location in an area prone to natural disasters, such as cyclones, monsoons and landslides, which make the camps even more vulnerable.
The difficulty for Rohingya refugees of returning to Myanmar
Following an agreement signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2018, a number of attempts have been initiated to return Rohingyas to Myanmar, but they have all been unsuccessful. The future of the world’s most persecuted minority appears more uncertain than ever. Many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are worried about their future – they would like to return to Myanmar, but only once the issues around citizenship, security, legal rights and access to services and justice have been resolved.
Although Bangladesh has accepted and accommodated the Rohingya refugees, the country does not plan for them to remain and is pushing for their return to Myanmar. Tensions are growing, both among the refugees in the camps and between the Rohingyas and their host communities. Over the course of the year Bangladesh has erected fences around the camps and the Rohingyas no longer have the right to have mobile phones or access to the internet. Humanitarian aid organisations face the twin challenge of responding to the essential and humanitarian needs of the Rohingyas and also alleviating the impacts on the host communities in Bangladesh.
Our activities in Bangladesh
CAPACITY-BUILDING FOR LOCAL PARTNERS
Médecins du Monde has been working in Bangladesh since 2017. As restrictions on NGOs were increased, severely limiting their access to the Cox’s Bazar camps, we decided to help strengthen the capacity of local organisations. We have organised training for healthcare staff working directly in the camps, focusing on providing a response to gender-based violence and the need for mental healthcare and psychosocial support.
We have also developed tools and good practice guidance to facilitate a better response to the needs of the Rohingyas, many of whom are traumatised by the extreme violence they witnessed and experienced in Myanmar.
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