2020 marks the third year of displacement for the Rohingya people. Since violence broke out in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2017, over 898,000 men, women and children have fled across the border into Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, joining an estimated 212,000 refugees already living in the area.
As the Rohingya lack secure legal status and cannot move freely or work, they must rely entirely on humanitarian aid. Considered stateless, the Rohingya now make their homes in one of the most congested refugee camps in the world, living in bamboo shelters perched precariously on land that is prone to flooding and landslides. Access to basic services, including adequate sanitation, healthcare, livelihoods and education, is limited.
The refugees have also put an immense strain on the half a million Bangladeshis living in Cox’s Bazar. The presence of the camps has led to large scale deforestation of a former wildlife preserve and has detrimentally impacted the ability of farmers to cultivate land. Despite the challenges, the Bangladeshi community were the first to respond when the Rohingya arrived and continue to generously host the refugees.
We carried out our first activities in northern Bangladesh in 2016 through a partnership with local NGOs. We have since scaled up our presence, obtaining legal registration in 2018, which allows us to better respond to the Rohingya influx. Alongside our local partners, we provide assistance to refugees and local communities through education, and ICLA activities, with a particular emphasis on housing, land and property. In 2020, we expanded our operations to support shelter response within the camps, the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and are expanding programming to include livelihoods and food Security along with WASH. NRC will also establish an emergency response team to respond to sudden onset shocks. In 2021, we will open new operations addressing the impacts of displacement from climate change and forced migration in other affected areas of Bangladesh.
We are working with Rohingya volunteers and the members of the host community to provide children, adolescents and youth with quality education through:
- life skills sessions that help youth and adolescents avoid threats and reduce their protection risks
- teacher training and capacity building in psychosocial support, health and hygiene, and disaster risk management to support the wellbeing and safety of beneficiaries
- technical training to develop skills that will empower youth to gain greater self-reliance for themselves and their families in a future that is extremely uncertain
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
We work to provide ICLA by:
- researching the impacts of the refugee crisis on the Rohingya and the communities hosting them
- disseminating information, and promoting and assisting Rohingya in obtaining civil documentation (such as birth documentation, records of marriages, divorces and deaths)
- collaboration with local actors on resolving housing, land and property conflicts within Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities through collaborative dispute resolution mechanisms
Shelter and settlements
Our newest core competency meets the main concerns of the Rohingya refugees and the most vulnerable host community members facing deterioration of shelters, a lack of adequate lighting, and access to sustainable energy sources by:
- providing refugee households with sustainable solar energy lighting to improve safety, dignity and enhance quality of life
- establishing a peer-to-peer solar energy grid in the poorest areas of Teknaf Upazila. The grid will be unique to Cox’s Bazar District
- assisting vulnerable host community households, especially female, elderly and child headed ones
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- International Organization for Migration (IOM)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- Education Cannot Wait
About NRC in Bangladesh
Stateless Rohingya refugees remain entirely dependent on international support
Statement by Filip Lozinski, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director in Bangladesh, on the 2020 joint humanitarian response plan for the Rohingya refugee crisis.
International court orders protection of Rohingya people
Statement by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Secretary General Jan Egeland, on today’s International Court of Justice finding that Myanmar must take action to protect the Rohingya people.
Long-term solutions for the Rohingya response
Two years after the people of the Rohingya minority fled Myanmar, 900.000 refugees are trying to rebuild their lives in neighbouring Bangladesh. NORCAP experts support the humanitarian response and our projects target some of the most critical gaps in the assistance.