A man observes fire damage in a refugee camp near Cox's Bazar. Credit: Sadia Rahman/NRC

Bangladesh: Rohingya refugees on the brink of being forgotten

Published 07. Mar 2023
Almost six years after fleeing deadly violence, close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are at the cusp of being forgotten by the world, warns the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Today’s launch of the Bangladesh Joint Response Plan – just two days after a fire caused havoc in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar – is a chance to refocus attention.

"We are now at a crucial tipping point. In 2017, the world stood alongside Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya. But today, the international community are slowly turning their backs and entrenching hopelessness. We cannot let this happen," said Wendy McCance, NRC's country director in Bangladesh. 

“Bangladesh’s refugee camps are increasingly challenging places to live: Over the past months, violence and instability have risen; just two days ago, a massive fire devastated thousands of homes; and at the same time, food rations have been cut. Youth are hearing the message: we have forgotten you; you have no future. Today is an opportunity to counter the despair and reinstate hope.” 

The launch of the 2023 Rohingya refugee Joint Response Plan, co-hosted by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations in Geneva, comes at a critical moment. International support to the Rohingya is currently declining and resources are increasingly overstretched, risking a reduction in essential support and services. Last month, the World Food Programme announced a dramatic ration cut due to a lack of funding, placing already vulnerable refugees at risk of hunger.  

Refugees are now caught in a state of limbo, unable to return, and banned from earning a living in Bangladesh. "Nobody asks us what we want to do when we grow up, but we urgently call for opportunities to work," said Anowara, a young refugee woman who has no means of generating income and relies entirely on humanitarian aid. 

"Food rations must be restored. But that is not enough, or an adequate solution to the hardships Rohingya have faced for the last six years in Bangladesh. Both national Bangladeshi authorities and the international community must increase support for mid-to-long-term measures and solutions, such as opportunities to earn an income, that benefit both the refugees and the local community living in and around Cox’s Bazar. We cannot stand by and let this become another forgotten crisis," said McCance. 

Notes to editors: 

  • Photographs are available for free use here. 
  • In 2022, NRC reached over 170,000 people with education, shelter, water support and information and legal counselling in Bangladesh. 
  • The Rohingya Joint Response plan was 63% funded in 2022.  
  • 1.5 million people are currently in need of humanitarian aid in Bangladesh. 

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