Rohingya refugees - Bangladesh

Basic cooking materials support Rohingya refugee communities in Bangladesh ©Save the Children Australia.

Basic cooking materials support Rohingya refugee communities in Bangladesh ©Save the Children Australia.

The movement of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State into neighbouring Bangladesh is the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. Since August 2017, close to 700,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar, joining camps and host communities near Cox’s Bazar. The massive Kutupalong camp is now the world’s largest refugee camp, holding more than 600,000 people. There are at least another eight official refugee camps in the region and many Rohingya have also sought refuge with Bangladeshi host communities. Most refugees have arrived with few belongings, setting up camps wherever possible, in difficult terrain and with little access to aid, safe drinking water, food, shelter or healthcare. The monsoon season exacerbated conditions, with turned camps to mud, threatened temporary shelters perched on barren hillsides, and water contaminated.

Australia is one of the largest donors to this crisis and has committed $51.5 million to date, including $44 million in Bangladesh and $7.5 million in Myanmar. Funding is helping to deliver essential services, restore safety and dignity for the refugees and monsoon preparations. Australian assistance is provided through the World Food Programme, the UN Refugee Agency, the UN Population Fund, the International Organization for Migration, BRAC (the world's largest NGO) and the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.

The AHP Response

Through the AHP, AUD six million of the Australian Government’s humanitarian assistance package for this refugee crises is supporting provision of clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, health, protecting those vulnerable to abuse or not receiving needed services, and basic survival items to almost 230,000 individuals. AHP partners, Save the Children Australia and Oxfam Australia (in partnership with Care Australia), are delivering the AHP response.

These tanks provide fresh water to refugee and host communities © Oxfam Australia.

These tanks provide fresh water to refugee and host communities © Oxfam Australia.

Save the Children Australia

Save the Children is supporting more than 150,000 people through immediate and long-term assistance. Life saving aid includes shelter and survival items (such as family kits), provision of fresh water and latrines, health and nutrition services, and protection for vulnerable households across nine sites. As most refugees arrive in Bangladesh with little possessions, food and shelter represents a priority for Save the Children staff in the field. They provide emergency food baskets with basic food items, shelter kits, health and hygiene kits for families, and dignity kits for women and girls. These emergency distributions are complemented by the construction of gender-sensitive and child-friendly latrines, and bathing and handwashing facilities. Save the Children has constructed Child Friendly Spaces where children can receive support and also educational messages such as the importance of good hygiene - a critical message in camp conditions. Unaccompanied and unregistered children are also identified and registered in an attempt to reunite with families.

Emergency health, mental health and psychosocial support, particularly for children who have experienced violence in Rakhine State, is being provided through nine health and clinical care service centres offering primary health care, mental health and psychological first aid, and reproductive health services. Through these clinics, Save the Children is also monitoring acute malnutrition in infants and providing nutrition services. Longer-term activities include education and health preparedness activities (particularly cholera preparedness) and raising awareness of protection issues through training and campaigns.

Oxfam Australia in partnership with CARE Australia

Rohingya refugee women dry their reusable menstrual clothes in dark indoor spaces due to lack of privacy outside - leading to a greater risk of infection. Menstrual hygiene is a huge challenge for Rohingya refugee women with limited privacy in the camps. Video care of Care Australia.

Oxfam and CARE are working together to ensure an estimated 75,000 individuals are provided access to safe water and equitable access to latrines, with at least 35,000 women provided access to safe sanitation facilities and enclosures. Oxfam and CARE are working in the makeshift settlements of Kutupalong and Balukhali, the spontaneous camps of Hakimmpara, Jamtoli/Thangkhali and Roikong/Unchiprang, and the host communities of Teknaf and Ukhiya. Public health information and education campaigns are also delivered.

Community latrines are being built and water pumps provided. Safe and private female-only laundry and bathing areas have been built. Ongoing maintenance and de-sludging of toilets is also provided. A total of 9000 hygiene kits through trained female community hygiene promoters, awareness raising sessions and clean-up campaigns will be distributed. CARE is leading on education campaigns, providing 75,000 girls, boys, men and women of reproductive age with information and materials on gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, protection and reproductive and sexual health rights. This includes the distribution of 10,000 dignity kits and 8000 infant hygiene kits.

Bangladesh, 2017Clare Price