An uncertain life: Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh

The influx of refugees from Rohingya into Bangladesh is now over 370,000, with the figures rising daily. They are supported by the Bangladesh government, local and international NGOs, and host communities.

Bangladesh has been hosting Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Chittagong Division Bazar District in the country’s southeast region since the 1970’s. One of the major influx was during 1991-1992 when 250,000 entered the country but aside from 32,000 who continued to reside in registered camps, most were repatriated.

The situation of the camps located in Ukhiya Upazila, are extremely dire. While the Kutupalong Registered camp has expanded to accommodate new arrivals, we saw the

increase of refugees both in makeshift camps and spontaneous settlements.

Thousands of Rohingya undertaken the dangerous travel to cross over to Bangladesh daily. Over 185,000 refugees have settled in spontaneous settlements by the roads and have little by way of tarpaulins, rope and/or bamboo to construct a temporary shelter. Given the limited space for construction, many have taken refuge on the sides of hills which pose risk of increase landslides due to the monsoon rains. Moreover, many we arrived in Bangladesh feeling traumatized, hungry, tired and sick.

Majority of the refugees were women, children and the elderly. While there are spaces for women and children which supported the Rohingya population from before the mass exodus, there is a need to rapidly scale up interventions across all sectors.

We spoke with some of the refugees from the Baluakhali makeshift camp who shared their stories with us. Ameena is 20 year old women with two children. She says “Our houses were burnt by Myanmar Army. We were forced to leave our home or otherwise, they will not spare us from killing. I have crossed the border with my family, sister and niece, walked over the two mountains for one week just to reach here. We asked food from whoever we met on the way. My sister, Ambia, helped me carry my husband because of his disability and I have a month old baby with me.”

Food, water and sanitation and shelter are the urgent needs of the population. Given the huge exodus of the Rohingya population, the systems on the ground are overwhelmed with all stakeholders -government, NGOs and communities – doing their best to provide food, water, shelter, and basic health services. ActionAid will undertake interventions in the sectors of food assistance, WASH, Shelter and GBV. In order to address the situation, we urgently require your support to scale up initiatives