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UNHCR Bangladesh Operational Update, 27 December 2017 - 7 January 2018

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Publication date

Arrivals from Myanmar have significantly decreased, with over 2,200 refugees crossing into Bangladesh from 1 to 26 December, compared to over 12,700 in November.

Discussions on returns between the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar are on-going.
UNHCR offers to help the Governments to ensure international standards are contemplated.

The biggest challenge to refugee protection is the environment of the camps.
UNHCR and partners are working to address the logistical challenges of bringing large amounts of aid.


  • 655,000* Estimated new arrivals in Bangladesh since 25 August 2017
  • 307,500 Estimated refugee population before 25 August 2017
  • 954,500 Estimated total refugee population currently


187 staff currently working on the emergency compared to 49 prior to the crisis. 113 are national staff. 23 partners compared to compared to 7 prior to the crisis


USD 83.7 million
Requested for UNHCR’s initial emergency response (until February 2018). A Joint Response Plan is under preparation.

Operational Context

Some 655,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017. There were more than 2,200 new arrivals between 1 and 26 December 2017, a significant decrease in arrival trends compared to November, which saw the arrival of over 12,700 refugees. In December, the majority of arrivals (over 1,900) arrived through the Mogpara/Sabrang border point, on the southernmost tip of Bangladesh.

UNHCR is working with the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and partners to ensure protection and assistance for refugees. UNHCR’s support also aimed at ensuring that local host communities affected by the unprecedented influx are considered and assisted. The agency also continues to work to develop areas in the existing settlements, Kutupalong and Nayapara, to provide basic infrastructure and services.

On 23 November 2017, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a bilateral ‘arrangement’ on the return of refugees to Myanmar. A Joint Working Group (JWG) consisting of government representatives from Myanmar and Bangladesh was subsequently formed on 19 December 2018. The JWG is tasked to develop a specific instrument on the physical arrangement for the repatriation of returnees. UNHCR continues to offer its technical support to both Governments to establish a voluntary repatriation framework in line with international standards, with a view to ensuring that any returns occur in conditions of voluntariness and safety — and in a sustainable manner. Reportedly, the first meeting of the JWG is planned to take place on 15 January 2018.

UNHCR has been sampling refugees’ views on return. A majority of those interviewed indicated that before considering returning to Myanmar they would need to see some positive developments, in particular in relation to citizenship, security, and the possibility for them to enjoy their basic rights. Some refugees have also asked for reassurances about UNHCR’s involvement in the process, being familiar with UNHCR’s role and assistance in past efforts to assist refugees to return to Myanmar.