• The humanitarian situation for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh remains dire, with some 655,000 refugees newly arrived since 25 August 2017. At least 58% of them are children. Even if the pace of arrivals has slowed down, thousands of refugees continue to arrive every week, adding pressure on already heavily stretched resources on the ground.
• 1,138 clinically suspected cases of diphtheria and 19 deaths were reported as of 15 December 2017, among which 4 are from the host community. 56 % of the cases fall in the 5-14 years age group, while 20 % of cases are in the under-five age group. In response to the diphtheria outbreak, a vaccination campaign was started on 12 December UNICEF has procured 900,000 doses of Td vaccines so far, which will also be used to immunize health personnel, teachers and social workers.
• Last week, 16,245 children under the age of five have been screened for malnutrition and, out of them, 640 children were identified with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). 608 children are receiving treatment.
• UNICEF opened 140 new learning centres and has managed to enroll 17,024 new children (aged 4-14 years) and train 218 new teachers during the past week.
• As of mid-December, UNICEF has received 63.3 per cent of its current appeal funding requirement. It is estimated that US$144 million will be needed for the Rohingya response in 2018.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
The influx of Rohingya refugees from northern parts of Myanmar’s Rakhine State into Bangladesh restarted following attacks at Myanmar Border Guard Police posts on 25 August 2017. As of 14 December, the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) reported that 655,0001 Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since the attacks. According to ISCG’s rapid needs assessment, 58 per cent of new arrivals are children and 60 per cent are girl children and women including a high number of pregnant (3 per cent) and lactating women (7 per cent). With the new influx, the total number of Rohingya who have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, coupled with the affected population in the communities, has reached an estimated staggering 1.2 million.2 There are 720,000 children among the new arrivals, existing Rohingya populations and vulnerable host communities who are affected and need urgent humanitarian assistance including critical life-saving interventions.
The inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2017-2018 identified the areas of WASH, health, nutrition and food security and shelter for immediate scale-up to save lives in both settlements and host communities. As per the HRP, the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar is highly vulnerable, many having experienced severe trauma, and are now living in extremely difficult conditions. The limited WASH facilities in the refugee established settlements, put in place by WASH sector partners including UNICEF prior to the current influx, are over-stretched, with an average of 100 people per latrine. New arrivals also have limited access to bathing facilities, especially women, and urgently require WASH supplies including soap and buckets. Given the current population density and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, any outbreak of cholera or Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD), which are endemic in Bangladesh, could kill thousands of people residing in temporary settlements. Urgent nutrition needs have been prioritized for children aged under five (including infants), pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. These include close to 17,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to be supported over the next six months. Nutrition sector partners plan to cover 70 per cent of the identified needs in the makeshift and new settlements, host communities and official refugee camps. Moreover, children, adolescents and women in both the Rohingya and host communities are exposed to high levels of violence, abuse and exploitation including sexual harassment, child labour and child marriage and are at high risk of being trafficked. Finally, more than 450,000 total Rohingya children aged 4-18 years old are in need of education services.