Community Outreach Members (COMs)
COMs are refugee volunteers who provide invaluable support to their communities raising awareness on a variety of subjects through group sessions and door to door visits. COMs provide information relevant to refugees’ daily lives including the risks of child marriage, access to services, cyclone, and monsoon preparedness, among many others. These volunteers are also trained to identify people with specic needs or symptoms of disease and refer them to the relevant services. During the COVID-19 and cholera vaccination campaigns, COMs accompanied vulnerable individuals to their appointments and volunteered at the vaccination sites. COMs also lead service projects across camps which engage communities to respond to shared concerns and include constructive activities, such as organizing literacy classes for adults, adolescent chess clubs, and handicraft skills workshops for women. COMS are conducting activities in 31 camps.
Elected Community Representation
Community representatives carry out block level meetings to identify community concerns and raise them at camp coordination meetings and with humanitarian partners operating in the camps. Community representatives carry out awareness sessions on various topics including child marriage, domestic violence, and community empowerment. They facilitate the resolution of small-scale communal disputes via mediation sessions. Through the formation of radio listening groups, block representatives raise awareness among the community on the important protection related issues. The elected community representation system functions across four camps.
Female and male adult and youth community groups organize discussions in their communities to identify needs and gaps and plan projects to address them. UNHCR and partners support the groups to carry out projects identied and prioritized by the community. The service projects range from small scale infrastructure repairs to handwashing campaigns and distribution of handicrafts. The Community Groups programme currently functions in 31 camps.
Communication with Communities
The Information Service Centres are facilities where refugees can receive accurate information, as well as provide feedback and/or complain of camp services. The Interactive Voice Response system sends pre-recorded audio messages as phone calls in Rohingya language on topics such as COVID-19 prevention and response, re prevention and monsoon/cyclone preparedness.
UNHCR and its partner work closely with imams and female religious teachers to engage them in the humanitarian response. Imams and female religious teachers conduct awareness sessions on child marriage, tracking, health, monsoon and cyclone preparedness recommendations, peaceful coexistence, and other protection issues, across 31 camps.
UNHCR co-chairs the Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group (GiHA WG) together with UN Women. The GiHA WG provides technical support and advocacy to advance gender equality across the joint response, including cross-sectoral support for use of the Gender with Age Marker (GAM). The GAM is a tool that helps humanitarian actors design and implement inclusive programmes that respond to gender, age, and disability-related dierences.
Refugees with disabilities have restricted access to services, primarily due to the hilly terrain. UNHCR and partners are working to support them to receive functional and physical rehabilitation assistance, assistive devices such as wheelchairs and walking sticks, and psychosocial support to enable them to independently access health and protection services. Caregivers are supported to reduce the burden and stigma associated with caregiving roles. To ensure that the rights of older people and persons with disabilities are protected and promoted by humanitarian actors, UNHCR is also actively participating in the Age and Disability Working Group.