Rohingya emergency

Rohingya refugees fled violence in Myanmar at a staggering rate in 2017 – and the numbers keep growing.

At the peak of the crisis, thousands were crossing into Bangladesh daily. Most walked for days through jungles and mountains, or braved dangerous sea voyages across the Bay of Bengal. They arrived exhausted, hungry and sick – in need of international protection and humanitarian assistance.

Over 940,000

refugees have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017

 

As of 31 August 2022

Over a million Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar in successive waves of displacement since the early 1990s. Follow the crisis here.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The latest exodus began on 25 August 2017, when violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, driving more than 742,000 to seek refuge in Bangladesh. Most arrived in the first three months of the crisis. An estimated 12,000 reached Bangladesh during the first half of 2018. The vast majority reaching Bangladesh are women and children, and more than 40 per cent are under age 12. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection. They have nothing and need everything.

Nearly all who arrived during the influx have sought shelter in and around the refugee settlements of Kutupalong and Nayapara in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. Some have joined relatives there. The enormous scale of the influx is putting immense pressure on the Bangladeshi host community and existing facilities and services.

“They burnt our house and drove us out by shooting. We walked for three days through the jungle.”

Mohammed, who fled to Bangladesh with his family of seven, including a baby born along the way

New spontaneous settlements sprouted overnight, raising concerns over the lack of adequate shelter, water and sanitation, access to basic services, and general protection considerations such as safety for women and girls. The Kutupalong refugee settlement has grown to become the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 600,000 people living in an area of just 13 square kilometres, stretching infrastructure and services to their limits.

The Bangladesh government has responded generously throughout the latest crisis. Local Bangladeshi villages have also taken in the new arrivals. They spared no effort to help, straining their already limited resources.

The humanitarian response in Bangladesh remains focused on meeting the massive humanitarian needs and on mitigating the impact of the seasonal monsoon rains. However, additional international support is urgently needed to step up the assistance from purely humanitarian and day-to-day support towards addressing medium-term challenges, including resilience, education, registration, and programmes to protect the most vulnerable refugees – including children, women and persons with specific needs.
 

What is UNHCR doing to help?

Together with our partners, we are working in support of the Bangladesh government to respond to the massive humanitarian needs.

In the opening days, weeks and months of the crisis, UNHCR airlifted more than 1,500 metric tons of emergency life-saving aid to Bangladesh – including blankets, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, family tents, plastic rolls, kitchen sets, jerry cans and buckets.

Together with our partners, we are also helping the government to develop new sites that can safely accommodate refugees. This includes funding a road to facilitate construction and refugee access, supporting site planning, building latrines and wells, improving the water and sanitation facilities and distributing shelter materials.

In an effort to improve sanitation and access to drinkable water, we have built thousands of latrines and water points for the refugees, thereby mitigating the risks of health problems such as acute watery diarrhoea.

UNHCR is working to mainstream refugee protection in all refugee settlements. With its partners, it is developing a referral system and safe spaces for survivors of gender-based violence. We are also enhancing efforts to identify and refer children at risk for the appropriate support.

UNHCR has increased its presence in the field through the deployment of emergency teams and relief specialists in different sectors. We have 300 staff in Bangladesh, including 208 national colleagues. We will continue to boost our presence and operations to match the scale and complexity of this still fluid and evolving refugee crisis.

On 16 March 2018, the UN and its partners launched a Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis calling for US$951 million to continue delivering lifesaving assistance from March to December 2018. As of early August 2018, the JRP remains just 32 per cent funded. UNHCR is appealing for US$238.8 million as part of its Supplementary Appeal for 2018 to continue to respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees. 

To find the latest documents and figures on the Rohingya situation, please visit our Data Portal. The Operational Data Portal is a partner coordination tool for refugee situations provided by UNHCR.

Monsoon response ​

UNHCR rushed additional aid to Bangladesh to prepare refugees and host communities for the monsoon rains, which fall between May and September, increasing the risk of floods and landslides. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have found shelter in Cox’s Bazar district – one of the wettest areas of the country. Humanitarian partners estimate that up to 200,000 Rohingya refugees could be at risk during the monsoon season. Many live on rugged, undulating terrain prone to landslides and flooding and are in urgent need of relocation.

Among them, some 41,000 refugees live in areas deemed at highest risk of landslides. By mid-August 2018, more than 24,000 of them had been relocated by UNHCR to safer areas.  

UNHCR has also equipped more than 80,000 refugee families with upgraded shelter kits, which include bamboo poles, ropes, shelter-grade tarpaulins, sandbags, and tools. The Bangladesh government, supported by UNHCR and its partners, have added 32 kilometres of brick roads and footpaths, 91 kilometres of drainage pipes, and has constructed 45 kilometres of steps across the settlement. Sixty-three kilometres of retaining walls and structures have been built. Ninety-four kilometres of drainage have been completed or repaired, and 2,324 meters of bridges assembled. UNHCR has also strategically prepositioned 116 storage containers with emergency aid and upgraded 20 community buildings and facilities in the Bangladeshi host communities.

Responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh

  • A young Rohingya girl stands in the rain at a refugee settlement in Shamlapur, southeast Bangladesh.
    A young Rohingya girl stands in the rain at a refugee settlement in Shamlapur, southeast Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Patrick Brown
  • Mohammed Rafiq and his two-year-old daughter, Noor Fatima, inspect their shelter damaged by a landslide at Chakmarkul settlement, Bangladesh.
    Mohammed Rafiq and his two-year-old daughter, Noor Fatima, inspect their shelter damaged by a landslide at Chakmarkul settlement, Bangladesh.  © UNHCR/Caroline Gluck
  • Rohingya refugees clear a drainage channel at Kutupalong settlement in Bangladesh, as part of a joint UNHCR, IOM and WFP project to mitigate monsoon flooding.
    Rohingya refugees clear a drainage channel at Kutupalong settlement in Bangladesh, as part of a joint UNHCR, IOM and WFP project to mitigate monsoon flooding. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold
  • Supervised by UNHCR, Rohingya workers build an all-weather footpath as heavy rains threaten Kutupalong refugee settlement, Bangladesh.
    Supervised by UNHCR, Rohingya workers build an all-weather footpath as heavy rains threaten Kutupalong refugee settlement, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Patrick Brown
  • Rohingya refugees reinforce shelters with materials supplied by UNHCR at Kutupalong refugee settlement, Bangladesh.
    Rohingya refugees reinforce shelters with materials supplied by UNHCR at Kutupalong refugee settlement, Bangladesh.  © UNHCR/Roger Arnold
  • Rohingya refugee children stand outside a shelter being reinforced against monsoon rains in Kutupalong settlement, Bangladesh.
    Rohingya refugee children stand outside a shelter being reinforced against monsoon rains in Kutupalong settlement, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold
  • Rohingya refugees move out of an area at risk from landslides in Camp 5 to a newly built extension site in Camp 4, Kutupalong, Bangladesh.
    Rohingya refugees move out of an area at risk from landslides in Camp 5 to a newly built extension site in Camp 4, Kutupalong, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Adam Dean
  • Rohingya refugees Bibi, 4, and Jannatul, 11, sit with their belongings as they wait to move into a new shelter at Camp 4, Kutupalong. Their family's previous home was destroyed by a landslide.
    Rohingya refugees Bibi, 4, and Jannatul, 11, sit with their belongings as they wait to move into a new shelter at Camp 4, Kutupalong. Their family's previous home was destroyed by a landslide. © UNHCR/Patrick Brown
  • A Rohingya refugee is relocated from a shelter at risk from landslides to a safer home in the Camp 4 in Kutupalong settlement, Bangladesh.
    A Rohingya refugee is relocated from a shelter at risk from landslides to a safer home in the Camp 4 in Kutupalong settlement, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Patrick Brown
  • Recently arrived Rohingya refugees play at the UNHCR Transit Centre in Kutupalong, Bangladesh.
    Recently arrived Rohingya refugees play at the UNHCR Transit Centre in Kutupalong, Bangladesh.  © UNHCR/Adam Dean
  • Newly built shelters in Camp 4 extension site, Kutupalong, will house thousands of relocated families who were at risk from the monsoon downpours.
    Newly built shelters in Camp 4 extension site, Kutupalong, will house thousands of relocated families who were at risk from the monsoon downpours. © UNHCR/Adam Dean