Rohingya refugee crisis one year on: latest updates and how you can help
Since 25 August last year, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Myanmar for the Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh, making it the world’s largest and fastest growing refugee camp, and putting pressure on the environment, existing infrastructure, and social services that were already constrained.
In July, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited Bangladesh to express his solidarity with the Rohingya refugees and the people there who have been so generous, especially the local communities in Cox’s Bazar.
“Nothing could’ve prepared me for the scale of crisis and extent of suffering I saw in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. I heard heartbreaking accounts from Rohingya refugees that will stay with me forever,” said the Secretary-General.
During the joint visit with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank announced close to half-a-billion dollars in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of Rohingya refugees in areas such as health, education, water and sanitation, disaster risk management, and social protection.
Reflecting the increasingly protracted nature of the Rohingya crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors also approved a $50 million additional grant to an existing Health Sector Support Project in Bangladesh that is the first in a series that could total as much as $480 million.
The two leaders were accompanied by senior UN officials, including High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund Natalia Kanem.
“The Rohingya people cannot become forgotten victims. We must answer their clear appeals for help with action,” wrote the Secretary-General after the visit.
Until conditions are in place for a voluntary and sustainable return, refugees — and their hosts in Bangladesh — will continue to need the support of the international community.
“In a world where so many borders are closed, [the people and Government of Bangladesh] have opened their borders and received their brothers and sisters coming from Myanmar and from the terrible events there,” said the Secretary-General.
Here is what the UN is doing and what can you do to help
On social media, spread the word about these crises to mobilize support and urge the international community to step up.
You may also make a donation to ongoing aid operations targeting those most in need. Here are some examples:
- The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is one of the fastest and most effective ways to support rapid humanitarian response for people affected by crises. You can donate here.
- IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has played a leading role since the very beginning of this crisis, and indeed was supporting refugees and local communities there long before last year’s influx began. Some examples of its work include overseeing the distribution of over 100,000 shelter upgrade kits across the camps — and training tens of thousands of families how to make their shelters safer and more secure. IOM medics have carried out more than 400,000 consultations. Its work is also key for relocating those most at risk of landslide and floods during monsoon to safer ground, keeping critical access routes open in the worst conditions and reducing the risk of dangerous flooding. You can donate here.
- The UN Refugee Agency is taking the lead in emergency response and assistance to the refugees in the two camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara, in close collaboration with partners and authorities. These refugees have arrived exhausted, hungry, and sick after walking for days from their villages through jungles, across mountains and rivers carrying what little they could bring from home. There is an urgent need for emergency shelters and core relief items as more refugees arrive. You can donate here.
- The UN Population Fund is deploying midwives to help ensure that babies are safely delivered. They are also distributing clean delivery kids and screening women. You can donate here.
- The UN’s World Food Programme is working with local and international partners to provide assistance for people arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar. Upon arrival, people receive high energy biscuits. Once settled, they receive fortnightly rations of rice, lentils and oil. WFP is expanding the reach of its e-voucher programmes to cover all new arrivals in Cox’s Bazar. Food vouchers lead to more nutritious diets, empower women and provide real value for money, costing less than distributing food, while boosting the local economy. You can donate here.
- UNICEF is working with partners to improve options for shelter and sanitation as well as running education programmes, safe spaces for children, and much more. UNICEF is trucking in crucial supplies; rapid response teams are providing medical care including vaccinations and other emergency services. There are shortages of clean water and food, and many children are severely malnourished. You can donate here.