2023 marks six years since violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017, when over 742,000 Rohingya men, women and children fled across the border into neighbouring Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. There, they joined 37,119 other Rohingya refugees from previous waves of displacement.
As the Rohingya people continue to 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, with over 965,467 refugees living in the camps. During this time, they have been living in temporary bamboo shelters perched precariously on land prone to extreme weather events, including flooding and landslides, and vulnerable to severe climatic events such as cyclones. Access to basic services, including adequate sanitation, healthcare, livelihoods and education, remains limited.
The Bangladeshi community living in Cox’s Bazar, the first to respond to the 2017 crisis, continue to generously host and support the refugees, despite the local and environmental strains.
3,551people benefited from our education programme
7,895people benefited from our food security programme
29,804people benefited from our shelter programme
30,133people benefited from our ICLA programme
16,365people benefited from our WASH programme
44,032people benefited from other NRC activities
NRC works in Cox’s Bazar responding to the Rohingya crisis, and in areas such as the north-east, addressing the impacts of climate change.
Alongside partners, our integrated operations include shelter, water, hygiene, sanitation, responding to weather-related emergencies, ensuring education continuity and providing information and legal counselling for refugees and Bangladeshis. Through these activities, we reach over 150,000 people per year. Our approach to humanitarian action focuses on principled aid delivery and promotes the agency and dignity of impacted populations.
NRC’s education programmes support Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host community youth, aged 13-24, by engaging in formal and non-formal education and skills development activities in safe spaces. We do this through:
- delivering the Myanmar Curriculum (MC), in line with Myanmar’s formal education system and the MC Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP)
- offline learning programmes, through tablets and devices, for hard-to-reach learners
- psychosocial support through NRC’s flagship Better Learning Programme
- life skills sessions including how to mitigate protection risks/threats and disaster risk management
- skills learning and vocational education training
- non-formal education sessions for youth in community-based spaces, which include basic literacy and numeracy
- distributing teaching and learning materials to youth and providing teacher’s kits to mentor teachers and learning facilitators
- providing teachers’ professional development (TPD) training and building their capacity in psychosocial support, health, hygiene and disaster risk management, to support the wellbeing and safety of youth
We are working with local NGOs to establish curriculum guidelines and tools to support skills development and vocational activities. NRC co-leads the Youth Working Group (YWG) in the Rohingya refugee response.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
NRC’s team of trained lawyers works with national and international agencies and volunteers to assess protection concerns, mediate disputes, and facilitate negotiations between Rohingya refugees and host Bangladeshis with the aim of improving conditions and access to judicial mechanisms for affected community members. NRC’s ICLA programme provides its lifeline support through:
- awareness-raising, counselling and legal assistance on access to essential services, securing tenancy rights, obtaining residency and identity documents and registration such as smart cards, birth, death, marriage, divorce and national identity (NID) registration
- addressing housing, land and property (HLP) issues, including rental disputes, safe relocation and protection from evictions
- supporting the HLP Technical Forum by establishing an evidence base, through eviction monitoring, land tenure mapping and conflict analysis
- providing due diligence and strengthening community-based conflict resolution mechanisms with collaborative dispute resolution (CDR) training
Shelter and settlements
NRC helps Rohingya refugees and host communities who endure ongoing shelter and WASH concerns, lack of adequate lighting and access to safe, hygienic facilities. Activities include:
- supplying durable shelter materials and transitional shelter assistance
- providing shelter materials and construction support after incidents including fires, flooding, vandalism, landslides, storms and cyclones
- providing household solar lamps and community solar streetlights
- providing containers for collecting and storing drinking water
- providing technical support for the construction and maintenance of different infrastructures within the Rohingya refugee camps, including learning centres and ICLA hubs
NRC WASH activities include:
- working with UNDP on constructing sanitary landfill sites
- providing WASH interventions, construction/maintenance of latrines, bathing cubicles, safe water sources and hygiene promotion sessions
- constructing water points along with submersible pumps
- developing a plastic recycling plant to reduce plastic waste
NRC in Bangladesh maintains an emergency roster of staff with various backgrounds and expertise, who are ready to be deployed and assist within 24 hours of an event. We respond to emergencies through:
- multi-purpose cash (MPC) assistance
- WASH and shelter support to assist early recovery
- contingency stocks and emergency assistance including drinking water, hygiene kits and non-food items
- providing emergency awareness and preparedness information to the refugees and other communities in Bangladesh who are affected by climate emergencies
Advocacy and the commitment to the protection of the rights of displaced communities are pillars of NCR’s work. We are engaging with partner agencies, donors, authorities and grassroots organisations to advocate for and actively communicate the voices and needs of affected populations, and push for sustainable solutions through:
- reports, white papers and evidence-based briefings
- regular donor engagement, including quarterly briefings to inform response trajectory
- public scholarship and partnerships with national and international outlets and reputable think tanks
- promoting sustainable planning
- advocating the host government to allow Rohingya refugees access to education and skills training
- ensuring any repatriation plan for Rohingya refugees is informed, safe, dignified and voluntary
We are committed to providing emergency assistance and contributing towards the early recovery of affected communities across the country. Our ongoing emergency response is aligned with our goal to serve climate-affected Bangladeshis, one in seven of whom might be displaced by 2050. We commit to working within the scope of our core competencies and in tandem with local and national partners, to respond to and support people to adapt to changing environmental conditions in ways that increase resilience and assist recovery.