Bangladesh + 1 more

UNHCR Bangladesh Operational Update, 16 - 30 September 2018

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UNHCR will scale up the distribution of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and cooking sets in October to reach around 60,000 refugee and Bangladeshi families in Cox’s Bazar. The clean energy project, which is the largest fuel intervention in UNHCR’s humanitarian operations to date, was piloted in August 2018 as a joint effort with IOM, FAO, WFP, and the ICRC to stop deforestation. It will include training and construction of storage and distribution facilities in various locations.

UNHCR and partners relocated 146 households (645 individuals) at high risk of landslides, as well as new arrivals and families affected by ongoing construction within the settlements during the reporting period. This includes relocation to Camp 4 Extension in Kutupalong, bringing the total number of refugee families relocated to this site to 1,147. Sixteen incidents of landslides, windstorms, lightning and floods were recorded from 16 to 30 September, affecting 86 families across all settlements.

Rohingya women taking a more active role in refugee settlements

UNHCR is integrating women and adolescent girls empowerment in all its activities. With the support of UNHCR and partners, female refugees of all ages are taking initiative and becoming involved in a range of activities, both in women-only and mixed groups, including in camp governance and volunteering for community services.

In Camp 4 Extension refugee settlement in Kutupalong, two female refugees were recently elected as members of a block committee representing about 300 families. The new four-member committee has started working in the community. The block-level election aims to increase participation in, ownership and accountability of the refugee governance system, with block leaders eventually electing the camp leaders. Other block elections are to follow.

The election of women in Camp 4 Extension follows a successful camp-level election in Shalbagan refugee settlement (in Nayapara) in June, which also saw Rohingya women elected as community representatives and camp and deputy leaders. Female refugees have remarked that having female refugee leadership has helped facilitate the reporting of important and often sensitive issues that affect women and girls, such as Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

Participation by Rohingya women in community activities is slowly growing since the start of the emergency last year. They are increasingly active as volunteers in different volunteer groups across settlements. Some 78 volunteers, or 30 per cent, of the 260 Community Outreach refugee volunteers known as Community Outreach Members (COMs)— are women. They work hand-in-hand with their male counterparts in the community to gather information on needs, raise awareness on key issues affecting refugees, and organise referrals to the appropriate service providers. As part of their work, they receive protection training as well as skills development trainings.

Since January 2018, 260 COMs (182 men, 78 women) who are active in nine settlements have conducted 17,071 home visits and met with 61,370 refugees (28,850 male and 32,520 female). In addition, they conducted 11,732 awareness raising sessions on protection concerns, diphtheria, fire safety, emergency preparedness, landslide risks, cholera, voluntary return questions, and hygiene issues, reaching 250,415 refugees (126,032 male and 124,383 female). Of 16,583 cases identified for support, 1,217 were refrerred for urgent intervention, 4,054 cases were provided with direct support, and 3,278 others received assistance through UNHCR’s community protection partnerships with Technical Assistance Inc. (TAI) and BRAC.

Recently, UNHCR held trainings on using technology for data collection such as Kobo toolbox, a tablet-based data collection tool, to facilitate COMs’ field activities. Participation by women in these trainings has increased their confidence in serving their community, provided them with opportunities to utilise their capactities and dedication toward the community, and has helped raise awareness on gender equality.

A photography workshop was held in early September for about 60 female volunteers. They learned how to frame their shots and experimented with styles. The workshop was followed by a photo contest on the ‘Life of Women and Girls’ in the settlements, encouraging the use of their talent for photography among a number of the volunteers.