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Rohingyar Hobor: Myanmar Coup & Balukhali Fires, Edition 1: January to March 2021

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Rohingyar Hobor (Rohingya news) is a quarterly trend report with the objective of sharing recent discussions and perceptions of the Rohingya refugees residing in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Rohingyar Hobor combines operational data with dedicated qualitative interviews conducted by Rohingya researchers to capture Rohingya thoughts on recent events and how are they impacting people’s wellbeing and behaviour. This piece is jointly produced by IOM’s Communication with Communities Unit (CwC) and the Needs and Population Monitoring Unit (NPM).

The most discussed topic in the past three months, raised by all consulted, is the increased feelings of fear and insecurity in the camps following the large-scale Fire on the 22nd March and the drastic increase in the number of res over the past 3 months. Many discussed the different community re prevention and preparedness measures being implemented across the camps to deal with the increase in fires – including the start of voluntary night watch committees, removal of flammable materials around shelters, the creation of household ‘go bags’, and the burial or sale of important items.

According to the Site Management and Site Development (SMSD) Sector's daily incident mechanism, the number of re incidents recorded across the camps has doubled when compared to the same period in 2020. As many of the causes of the fires are unknown, the majority of those consulted believe that the increase in fire incidents are the result of arsonists. Many theories are circulating about who is behind them and their motive. Others, based on discussions within their community, believe that they are being lit by the host community to encourage them to leave Cox’s Bazar. Those who hold this belief explain that their community have referenced a deterioration in relationships and increase in tensions between the Rohingya community and host population over the past three months. In many consultations, there is also a perception that not enough is being done to ensure their safety and security in the camps, and that the increase in movement restrictions, relocations and the construction of the fence have left communities feeling confused and no longer welcome in Bangladesh. Though the majority express a continuing desire for repatriation, the recent military coup in Myanmar has left many believing that their chances of repatriation have been gravely impacted leaving them with limited options.

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