• Humanitarian access to northern Rakhine remains limited; insecurity and intercommunal tensions persist
• Approximately 900,500 people displaced from Burma to Bangladesh need assistance
• FFP contributes $18.4 million to WFP to support vulnerable populations in Bangladesh
• Insecurity and military operations in Burma’s Rakhine State have prompted approximately 688,000 people, primarily Rohingya Muslims, to flee from Burma to Bangladesh since August 25, according to the Bangladesh-based UN Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG)—a humanitarian response coordinating body, comprising UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.
• While the flow of refugees across the Bangladesh–Burma border decreased significantly in December and January, insecurity and intercommunal tensions in Rakhine are ongoing. As the governments of Bangladesh and Burma continue to plan for repatriation of refugees, humanitarian agencies report that conditions in Rakhine are not conducive for return.
• In January, USAID/FFP announced $18.4 million in FY 2018 funding to the UN World Food Program (WFP) to support vulnerable refugees and host communities in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District with emergency food and nutrition assistance.
DISPLACEMENT AND POPULATION MOVEMENT
• Insecurity and acts of violence continue to affect populations across Rakhine, with media reporting at least two attacks during the month of January. On January 5, members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)—the armed group that claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on checkpoints and police posts in northern Rakhine in late August—launched an attack on Government of Burma security forces in northern Rakhine’s Maungdaw Township, resulting in at least three injuries. Separately, police violence during a January 16 protest, led by ethnic Rakhine, against Government of Burma restrictions resulted in at least seven deaths in central Rakhine’s Mrauk-U Township, international media report.
• The governments of Bangladesh and Burma continue to plan for the repatriation of Burmese refugees sheltering in Bangladesh. The two governments signed a repatriation agreement on November 23 and finalized an agreement on January 16 to facilitate refugee returns; the agreement emphasizes that the repatriation process should span two years, with the Government of Burma working to abate the flow of people from Burma into Bangladesh, according to the Government of Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• In January, the Government of Burma announced plans to establish a temporary camp to accommodate up to 30,000 returnees before facilitating their permanent return to areas of origin or resettlement in other areas, according to local media. Humanitarian actors have expressed concerns that conditions in Rakhine more broadly are not conducive for safe and sustainable returns.
• The Government of Bangladesh is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) outlining the role of UNHCR and operational details of a voluntary repatriation process, according to the Government of Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• Between August 25 and January 21, approximately 688,000 people fled from Rakhine to Cox’s Bazar, bringing the total number of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh to approximately 900,500 people, ISCG reports. Refugee arrivals have slowed significantly since the peak of the influx in September 2017.
• State/PRM partner UNHCR is facilitating the voluntary relocation of 9,400 refugees from Bandarban Province in an area along the Bangladesh–Burma border with limited access to basic services and humanitarian assistance to the Kutupalong displacement site in Cox’s Bazar, UNHCR reports. The relocation of the refugees will occur gradually over the coming weeks, with an average of 600 refugees relocated every day