The humanitarian crisis caused by escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is causing suffering on a catastrophic scale. As of 11 December, there are nearly 860,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar – of whom 646,000 have arrived since 25 August. Not only has the pace of new arrivals since 25 August made this the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, the concentration of refugees in Cox’s Bazar is now amongst the densest in the world. Refugees arriving in Bangladesh—mostly women and children—are traumatized, and some have arrived with injuries caused by gunshots, shrapnel, fire and landmines.
Before this crisis began, the country was already hosting a verified population of well over 200,000 Rohingya from Myanmar - and likely many more. Bangladesh was also coping with pressing needs and challenges of its own. The new arrivals are adding massive pressure to services in existing refugee camps and in makeshift settlements. Basic services are now badly outstripped, including water, health, and particularly shelter and sanitation. Conditions in the settlements and camps are now so critical that disease outbreaks are a looming prospect.
Refugees arriving in Bangladesh report fleeing appalling violations of human rights and other abuses in Myanmar. According to these harrowing accounts, villages have been burned down, parents or relatives have been killed in front of traumatized children, and women and girls have been raped or brutalized. UNHCR is already working to register new arrivals and provide comprehensive protection services.
More broadly, the United Nations and our partners are working closely with the Government of Bangladesh to scale up and coordinate the humanitarian response so as to ensure that refugees are protected in line with international standards, and to provide desperately needed support including food, shelter, health care and water. In Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, the humanitarian response to the influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar is coordinated by the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) which is led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The ISCG produces regular situation reports (see below) and other information products that provide the most up to date information – these products are available here.
To account for the rapidly increasing needs, humanitarian partners have revised the initial response plan, which now aims to assist 1.2 million people – including new refugees, prior refugees and host communities – at a total cost of US$434 million. As of 11 December, only 35 per cent of these requirements had been met, although donors have pledged millions more.