As of November 2017, Bangladesh hosts more than 820,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar. Before the current crisis began, the country was already hosting a verified population of well over 200,000 Rohingya, and likely many more. Bangladesh was also coping with pressing needs and challenges of its own. The new arrivals have added massive pressure to services in existing refugee camps and in makeshift settlements.
In the settlements, there is no accessible media in the Rohingya language, leaving the Rohingya population of well over a million, now spread between Myanmar and Bangladesh, reliant on information only available in languages other than their own. Trust levels in Burmese and Rakhine language outlets are, unsurprisingly, extremely low. Even before the onset of this current crisis, the information landscape for the region’s Rohingya population was desperately bleak.
In October and November, the Internews team in Bangladesh, composed of the Asia Humanitarian Adviser and the Internews Bangladesh Country Representative, conducted an Information Needs Assessment in Cox’s Bazar, surveying approximately 570 people in both Rohingya refugee and host communities. World Food Programme (WFP) also contributed to this report with the support of the Emergency Telecommunications' (ETS) Services for Communities Adviser, who collated data from various sources to provide information about the telecommunications landscape.
The results of this assessment make it clear that there are profound communications gaps for crisis-affected communities in Cox’s Bazar. More than three quarters (77%) of the affected population feel that they do not have enough information to make good decisions, and almost two-thirds (62%) report that they are unable to communicate with aid providers. This, despite some notable efforts made by humanitarian agencies to create Information Hubs and feedback mechanisms to serve this purpose.