The Government and people of Bangladesh have displayed extraordinary generosity towards Rohingya refugees. They have opened their homes to tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees over the past decades. Most recently, they have welcomed over 671,000 Rohingya refugees, who have fled violence in Myanmar since 25 August 2017 to seek safety in Cox’s Bazar. Their robust response – with the support of the international community – has saved countless lives. The Government and the people of Bangladesh are the biggest donors to this crisis. The overall population of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is currently estimated to be over 1 million. New refugees are still arriving with some 8,000 new arrivals since January 2018.
However, the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis (JRP), which requests US$951 million to respond to the needs of some 1.3 million people, both Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community until December 2018, remains underfunded, and this could hamper humanitarian partners' ability to adequately prepare and plan their response activities ahead of the monsoon season. To date the JRP, launched in mid-March, is only 9 per cent funded. The JRP focuses on the essentials, including adequate shelter, water, food, medical care, sanitation, and access to education.
This becomes even more challenging as the early onset of the rains, and the incoming cyclone and monsoon season, poses severe risks to the gains made. More than 200,000 Rohingya refugees are at risk of landslides and flooding in what could become a disaster on top of the current emergency. The Government and humanitarian partners are strengthening preparedness efforts. Over 65,000 households have received supplies to make their existing shelters monsoon proof. More than 15,000 refugees in particularly at-risk areas will soon be moved to safer ground. Site improvements and construction of access roads is also progressing.
According to the latest ISCG report, emergency preparedness for the cyclone and monsoon season remains the priority, with a narrowing window for risk mitigation, including relocations, strengthening of shelters, and site improvements. In the last two weeks (10 – 23 April), 3,400 people at risk of landslides or floods have been relocated. Relocations of more than 20,000 people at risk of landslides or floods are planned in the coming weeks into 3,790 ready and available plots. More safe land is being prepared for more relocation. The Government of Bangladesh has completed 9 km of drainage out of 20 km planned; and is installing 5 pipe culverts and 2 box culverts are under construction along the Army Road, with an estimated completion date in May.
Shelter upgrades are ongoing, with 117,153 households (65%) supported to date to strengthen their existing shelters. However, refugee sites remain dangerously congested and exposed to serious risks of floods and landslides. But months later, refugees remain forced to rely upon humanitarian assistance for their basic needs. In the last two weeks, 2,240 new cases of severe acute malnutrition were identified and were admitted to in- and outpatient programs for therapeutic treatment (making the total number of cases 6,509). One of the big funding gaps at the moment includes Food Security and Health.
Photos: OCHA/Anthony Burke