Since August 2017, over 730,000 Rohingya, including 400,000 children, have fled violence in Myanmar and settled in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh. Since then, with government and humanitarian partner support, refugees have gained access to basic services. The refugees remain highly dependent on short-term aid, however, and are living in precarious conditions, particularly in congested camps. These conditions and poor knowledge of hygiene practices are putting camp inhabitants at high risk of disease. Over 6,000 children identified as unaccompanied and separated are at risk of trafficking, early marriage and sexual exploitation. Forty-nine per cent of girls and 44 per cent of women feel unsafe when using latrines. Despite the progress made towards increasing access to emergency education, 9 per cent of children aged 4 to 14 years and 81 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 years lack access to learning/skills opportunities. These adolescents/youth face specific risks exacerbated by lack of education, occupational training and safe livelihood opportunities. In addition, heavy rains in July 2019 resulted in flooding across half of the country, affecting nearly 7.6 million people. A Humanitarian Response Plan targeting nine districts was launched in August in consultation with the Government to address these needs.
UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Bangladesh is aligned with the 2019 Joint Response Plan and the Humanitarian Response and Recovery Plan. In cooperation with the Government and partners, UNICEF will continue to link its humanitarian response and development programmes to achieve sustainable results. UNICEF is delivering lifesaving, multi-sectoral services wherever possible, while strengthening national service delivery and promoting social cohesion in host communities. This includes providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services; providing health services for children and pregnant women; facilitating treatment for children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM); supporting access to quality education; reaching children affected by violence, abuse and neglect with prevention and assistance; and preventing gender-based and sexual violence and supporting survivors.
The specific needs of adolescents – particularly occupational and life-skills training – will be prioritized. UNICEF will continue to invest in preparedness and accountability to affected populations. The response to flooding will include capacity and partnership building with the Government and non-governmental organizations to deliver life-saving WASH services and ensure learning spaces for children. UNICEF will continue to lead the nutrition sector/cluster and the child protection sub-sector, and co-lead the education and WASH sectors/clusters.
Results from 2019
As of 31 August 2019, UNICEF had US$84.5 million available against the US$152.2 million appeal (55 per cent funded). In collaboration with the Government and partners, UNICEF helped to avert major disease outbreaks by focusing on prevention, social mobilization, service coverage and quality improvements in health, nutrition and water services. The education sector reached over 90 per cent of Rohingya children aged 4 to 14 living in camps with education; and UNICEF achieved over 70 per cent of its share of this target.
Efforts to improve the quality of education are now underway. Integrated vocational and lifeskills programmes are reaching 12,500 adolescent boys and girls in camps and host communities. Due to cultural and social gender norms, reaching adolescent girls has been challenging and has required strong efforts from partners working with parents and religious and community leaders. As part of the sector-wide approach to water safety, piped water networks were constructed to improve the quality and sustainability of drinking water. However due to underfunding, only 40 per cent of the population in UNICEF’s geographical area of responsibility has been reached. Additional water networks planned for 2019 will reach 80 per cent of the population if funding is adequate.