Description of the disaster
Since 25 August 2017, extreme violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, drove over 727,000 people from Rakhine State across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A situation of statelessness imposed over generations has rendered this population seriously vulnerable, even before the severe traumas of this most recent crisis. The people and the Government of Bangladesh welcomed the displaced with generosity and open borders. The speed and scale of the influx was nonetheless a challenge, and the humanitarian community stepped up its support to help mitigate a critical humanitarian emergency. The response is designed to mitigate the impact of this population on the Bangladeshi communities most directly affected by the influx and improve their ability to cope with the strains of hosting nearly a million people who are forced to rely upon humanitarian aid for their basic needs.
A year later, the displaced people from Rakhine are facing additional threats. They live in congested sites that are ill-equipped to handle the monsoon rains and cyclone seasons – with alarmingly limited options for evacuation. Many displaced have expressed anxiety about their future, explaining that while they wish to return, they would not agree to do so until questions of citizenship, legal rights, and access to services, justice and restitution are addressed.
Over 919,000 displaced people are living in makeshift camps and other sites. The largest camp is the Kutupalong expansion site in Ukhia, hosting more than 610,000 refugees. Some 15,000 refugees live with host communities, the majority in Sadar and Ramu in Cox's Bazar and in Teknaf. About 55 per cent of displaced people from Rakhine state are under 18. Over 30 per cent of households are classified as vulnerable due to disabilities, single parents, separated children, or older people. Women and girls account for 52 per cent of the refugees. Refugees continue to rely heavily on aid for securing their basic needs. Growing tension between the refugees and the host community has been reported.3
Displaced people from Rakhine State continue to arrive in Bangladesh, though the overall influx has slowed since the onset of the crisis in late August 2017. From 1 January to 15 September 2018, UNHCR has recorded 13,764 new arrivals to Bangladesh.
As of 15 September 2018, 5,000 people have lost their homes and have been displaced in Naria Upazila because of soil erosion at the Padma River. Roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure are submerged under water.
Physical constraints are the biggest challenge to humanitarian access in Cox's Bazar, particularly during the monsoon season. Bangladesh is prone to flooding and landslides, which hamper aid delivery and damage infrastructure. The country remains generally accessible for humanitarian actors. Access of affected populations to aid remains problematic with limited availability, adverse weather conditions, communication problems, and long distances reported as major obstacles.
Monsoon rains affected more than 51,500 people between 11 May and 18 September 2018 and displaced 6,075 people. Families living in high-risk zones and those displaced are being relocated to reduce camp congestion. More than 25,919 people were relocated between 1 January and 12 September, and 1,795 relocations are planned from 13 to 29 September. An estimated 19,095 people remain in need of relocation due to the risk of landslides, poor infrastructure and new arrivals.
In addition, the IFRC together with other Partner National Societies are supporting BDRCS in preparing for the upcoming cyclone season (October-November).