The humanitarian situation for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh remains dire, with some 537,000 newly arrived refugees since 25 August 2017 – of which 58 per cent are children and 60 per cent are women.
With the new influx since 25 August, the current total number of Rohingyas who have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, coupled with the affected population in communities, has reached a staggering 1.2 million, including 720,000 children.
With fears growing around the dismal water and sanitation conditions and amidst a rapidly growing number of reported cases of acute watery diarrhoea; UNICEF successfully launched a cholera prevention campaign on 10 October. This reached over 167,000 men, women and children with the Oral Cholera Vaccine in the first two days.
UNICEF is encountering significant challenges, including lack of funding and physical access to some of the geographical locations due to lack of access roads and rainy weather conditions.
UNICEF has received only 7 per cent of the US$76.1 million requested to provide immediate life-saving humanitarian assistance to affected children and women over the period of six months
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The influx of Rohingya refugees from northern parts of Myanmar Rakhine State into Bangladesh restarted following the attacks at Myanmar Border Guard Police posts on 25 August 2017. As of 15 October, the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) reported that 537,0001 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 women including a high number of pregnant (3 per cent) and lactating women (7 per cent). There are currently 211,000 arrivals residing in extremely overcrowded makeshift settlements and official refugee camps, while 89,000 arrivals are in host communities. In addition, 162,000 arrivals are in sites that have spontaneously emerged, which are quickly expanding. With the new influx of 537,000 since 25 August 2017, the current total number of Rohingyas who have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, coupled with the affected population in the communities, has reached a staggering 1.2 million2 . There are 720,000 children, both from 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) 2017-18 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. Prior to the new influx in August, only 25 per cent of Rohingyas had access to safe water, and the situation is even worse in host communities, with only 10 per cent with access to safe water for drinking and personal hygiene. The entire 1.2 million affected population, including children and women, requires access to sufficient water of appropriate quality and quantity for drinking and personal hygiene. Given the current population density and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, any outbreak of cholera or acute watery diarrhoea, which are endemic in Bangladesh, could kill thousands of people residing in temporary settlements.
Urgent nutrition needs have been prioritized for under-five children (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 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, an estimated 450,000 total Rohingya children aged 4-18 years old are in need of education services.