The exodus from Myanmar of more than 600,000 Rohingya people, more than half of whom are children, is now the world's top refugee crisis.
A crisis where families – experiencing persecution, the death of family members, and the destruction of their home villages – are risking everything to reach some measure of safety in Bangladesh. They arrive in camps – such as the Kutupalong – seeking food, water, shelter, and health care after treacherous journeys.
As the displacement continues, the need for additional aid is urgent. Thousands of Rohingya refugees who have settled in the villages of Shamlapur, Leda and Unchiprang in the southern part of Cox’s Bazar district are at risk of being left out of humanitarian aid programs, as international attention focuses on the humanitarian crisis in the main Kutupalong and Balukhali settlements.
The United Nations has described the Rohingya as the most persecuted people in the world and the military offensive which provoked this exodus as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." While the majority in Myanmar are Buddhist, the Rohingya Muslim minority has long lived in the region, developing their own culture and speaking their own language. They have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, which views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Weighing only 3 lbs, 5 oz, tiny baby Mohammad Anas could fit in the palms of both your hands. One of the over 600,000 Rohingya who crossed into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after fleeing violence in Myanmar, Mohammad arrived both dehydrated and malnourished. He was rushed to the IOM medical clinic in Leda, Cox’s Bazar, and treated by the IOM team.
IOM has been providing on-the-ground humanitarian support to the ethnic Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) since 2014. When violence in Myanmar intensified this past August, more than 600,000 people fled and crossed into Bangladesh. Right now, nearly one million Rohingya are struggling to survive in Cox’s Bazar.
IOM leads the Rohingya Refugee Crisis response, coordinating the various humanitarian agencies on the ground, where monsoon rains and flooding, poor road networks, and insufficient drainage in the region continue to make it difficult to reach new arrivals with urgent humanitarian aid.
IOM’s response in Bangladesh includes:
Site Management and Development
IOM works to ensure that the Rohingya people are provided with help as quickly as possible, and that other humanitarian agencies can access emergency sites. We are clearing and levelling land, improving pedestrian access, providing basic drainage and handling sandbag reinforcement.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
IOM supports the Rohingya and affected populations in Bangladesh with WASH services, which include access to clean water, hygiene kits, and emergency latrines.
Shelter and Essential Items
IOM provides shelter supplies like tarps and emergency shelter kits to offer displaced families dignity, security, and privacy.
IOM responds to the healthcare needs of both the Rohingya and impacted communities in Bangladesh. We are also integrating nutrition services in clinics targeted to ensure that children do not suffer from malnutrition.
Meeting urgent protection needs is crucial to the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in emergency situations. As women and children remain the most at-risk of experiencing gender-based violence and human trafficking, IOM is working to construct safe spaces in Leda, Kutupalong, and Shamlapur for their protection.