UNHCR Bangladesh Operational Update, 23 January – 5 February 2018
Refugees remain anxious about the prospect of returns to Myanmar taking place in the near future. They reiterated that they will not consider going back to Myanmar unless questions of citizenship, legal rights, access to services and restitution are addressed.
An MoU between the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and UNHCR has been signed on data sharing.
The MoU stipulates that any use of information for purposes other than assistance and identification or transfer to third parties would need to be approved by UNHCR.
Planning and preparedness ahead of the monsoon continues to be the main priority for all actors.
Given the limited land available in the settlements to relocate families from flood and landslide prone areas, strict prioritization will need to be undertaken.
- 688,000* Estimated new arrivals in Bangladesh since 25 August 2017
- 212,000* Estimated refugee population before 25 August 2017
- 900,000 Estimated total refugee population currently
STAFFING & PARTNERS
- 216 staff currently working on the emergency compared to
- 49 prior to the crisis. 142 are national staff
- 23 partners compared to 7 prior to the crisis
- USD 83.7 million Requested for UNHCR’s initial emergency response from Sept 17 to Feb 18. Out of this amount, USD 26.4 million are the requirements for Jan-Feb 2018:
- USD 15.9 M Received
- USD 10.5 M Remaining needs
A Joint Response Plan, covering the period from March to December 2018, is under preparation.
Some 688,000 refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017. Refugees continue to arrive in Bangladesh, although at a significantly lower rate. The number of refugees arriving in Bangladesh has been decreasing over the past months, with more than 24,000 arrivals in November, more than 3,000 in December and 1,888 in January.
In the past week, however, there has been a significant increase in new arrivals, with some 676 refugees compared to 69 the previous week. All refugees who arrived last week were originally from Buthidaung township, in the Maungdaw District of Rakhine State. Most mentioned family safety and security concerns as their main reason for fleeing from Myanmar.
According to data collected via interviews with newly arrived refugees since December, 60% of refugees have close family members living in Bangladesh, while some 47% have close relatives who stayed behind in Myanmar. Most refugees arrived on foot and by boat, often using both means of transportation. In Nayapara, a discussion was held with 30 refugee men, women, girls and boys on the issues faced by children during the flight. Refugees mentioned that children suffered, in particular, from the cold and the lack of food.
On 23 November 2017, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a bilateral ‘arrangement’ on the return of refugees to Myanmar. This agreement outlines important commitments by both governments to ensure the voluntary and safe return of refugees to their place of origin in Myanmar. UNHCR currently considers that the necessary safeguards for the potential returns of refugees to Myanmar are absent. UNHCR has called on Myanmar to allow the necessary unhindered humanitarian access in areas of return and to create conditions for a safe and sustainable solution, including by implementing the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.
Refugees remain anxious about the prospect of returns taking place in the near future. They reiterated that they will not consider going back to Myanmar unless questions of citizenship, legal rights, access to services and restitution are addressed. They have also shared a 200,000 signature petition with the authorities, setting out their demands on repatriation.