As of 21 November, an estimated 622,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar to Bangladesh. The influx began on 25 August, after the Myanmar Army launched security operations in northern Rakhine state. In September, an average of approximately 14,500 people arrived daily. This dropped to an approximate average of 3,100 arrivals per day in October (ISCG 05/11/2017; 29/10/2017; 03/10/2017).
The estimated number of people in need was 1.2 million in the latest Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) of October 2017. This number was comprised of the preexisting caseload of Rohingya in Bangladesh (government estimates of 300,000), the new influx since 25 August (at 509,000 on 3 October), people in host communities (300,000), and a contingency for a further 91,000 people.
Since the number of people that have arrived stands at around 622,000 as of midNovember, the current number of people in need is likely to be higher than the previous estimate as the contingency of 91,000 has been exceeded. Though host communities are mentioned as people in need, secondary data review has not shown any large-scale response efforts are taking place among that population, leaving a significant gap (HRP 03/10/2017).
Needs, which are all interconnected, are high as the new influx overwhelms existing capacity in all sectors.
Current key challenges
Congestion is a threat to health and is complicating response. A high population density in the settlements means limited land is available to build facilities for the refugee population. Existing facilities are overwhelmed.
WASH remains of high concern, as faecal contamination of drinking water is high. Disease outbreak, including acute watery diarrhoea, remains likely – a dangerous combination with very high malnutrition rates.
The ongoing measles outbreak is of concern, again particularly in combination with very high malnutrition rates. The latest SMART survey in Kutupalong refugee camp shows global acute malnutrition rates of 24%.
The humanitarian community has limited time to scale up response prior to the cyclone season (April–June). This will significantly compound relief efforts, and increase the risk of disease outbreak. Existing shelters are unable to withstand cyclones.
Measures to prevent long-term full aid dependency are needed. This is particularly challenging as Rohingya are limited in their freedom of movement and livelihood opportunities.
Psychosocial support as many refugees have experienced trauma including torture and rape. Living in crowded and unsanitary conditions are additional stressors.
Access to fuel is a key concern. Rohingya have reported selling of food rations to obtain firewood. When collecting firewood in the forests, they are exposed to a wide range of protection concerns. Cooking with firewood inside shelters is a significant fire hazard.
Women and girls have additional needs due to societal norms and cultural practice.