Rohingya Refugee Crisis Explained

map of bangladesh and myanmarIn late August 2017, armed attacks, arson and mob violence forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee their homes in Rakhine State, Myanmar, and start their journey towards Bangladesh, in what quickly became the fastest growing refugee influx the world had seen in decades. They brought with them only the few possessions that they could carry, they carried children and the elderly and they crossed dangerous rivers to reach safety.

Here’s What You Need to Know:

1. What does it mean to be Rohingya?

2. How many Rohingya Muslims are living as refugees in Bangladesh? And where in Bangladesh are they living?

3. How are monsoons impacting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?

4. How is UNHCR ensuring that Rohingya children get an education?

5. How is UNHCR supporting refugee representation and female leadership among the Rohingya population during coronavirus?

What does it mean to be Rohingya?

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority. Because of their ethnicity, they are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, making them a stateless population. Despite living in Myanmar for many generations, they are not afforded the same rights as its citizens, such as the right to obtain birth certificates, attend school and work legally in the country.

Rohingya children in Bangladesh

How many Rohingya Muslims are living as refugees in Bangladesh? And where in Bangladesh are they living?

There are 860,356 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar region, 711,364 of whom arrived after violent attacks began in August 2017. More than half of those who have arrived are women and children. Most Rohingya refugees now reside in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee settlement. UNHCR provides immediate and long-term services to this population including psychosocial support, food, water, shelter, health services and more.

How are monsoons impacting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?  

Every year, deadly monsoons plague the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh, home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees. Since the beginning of June 2020, nearly 84,000 refugees have been affected by incidents including soil erosion and landslides, flooding, wind and storms. More than 7,600 people were forced to temporarily relocate due to shelter damage. This year, UNHCR has already distributed 20,000 monsoon preparation kits, provided 67,000 families with tarps and repaired or replaced over 11,000 shelters to prepare them for the storms.

UNHCR also ensures that refugees are at the center of the response, training Rohingya volunteers on first aid and other emergency procedures. So far, UNHCR has trained over 3,000 refugees as emergency responders and reached more than 80,000 refugees with community-led awareness sessions on emergency preparedness.

How is UNHCR ensuring that Rohingya children get an education?

At least 50 percent of Rohingya refugee girls and 42 percent of Rohingya refugee boys report not having completed any formal education when they were in Myanmar. One of the most important goals of UNHCR’s response is providing the estimated 445,858 Rohingya children in Bangladesh with access to education. UNHCR and partner organizations have built 1,703 learning spaces for Rohingya refugees and deployed 1,311 trained teachers since 2017.

Rohingya children studying in school in Bangladesh

How is UNHCR supporting refugee representation and female leadership among the Rohingya population during coronavirus?

Respecting the autonomy, leadership and input of refugees is essential when responding to a crisis. With this in mind, UNHCR and partners have supported elections for refugee representatives in several Rohingya settlements. These elections are an important step towards connecting refugees to the refugee governance system and its representatives, who have an important role in relaying information to the community and communicating refugees’ complaints and feedback to camp authorities. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, UNHCR has also trained a group of community health volunteers — 50 percent of whom are women and girls. This group has become essential in providing health education, conducting community outreach and delivering first-aid, as there has been an 80 percent reduction in humanitarian workers in camps to prevent the spread of the virus. Having the opportunity to support and shape their communities empowers many Rohingya women and gives them the chance to learn new skills and regain control of their lives. 

Woman in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh need your help…

UNHCR is on the ground providing lifesaving humanitarian support to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. However, they need your help. Becoming a monthly donor is the most efficient and effective way to help those fleeing conflict. Make a difference in the lives of refugees by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor

Jul 31 2020
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