Since 25 August 2017, extreme violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, has driven over 727,000 Rohingya refugees across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A situation of statelessness imposed over generations has rendered this population seriously vulnerable, even before the severe traumas of this most recent crisis. The people and Government of Bangladesh welcomed the Rohingya refugees with resounding generosity and open borders. The speed and scale of the influx was nonetheless a challenge, and the humanitarian community stepped up its support to help mitigate a critical humanitarian emergency. The response is designed to mitigate the impact of this population on the Bangladeshi communities most directly affected by the influx and improve their ability to cope with the strains of hosting nearly a million people who are forced to rely upon humanitarian aid for their basic needs.
Refugees now face additional threats. They live in congested sites that are ill-equipped to handle the monsoon rains and cyclone seasons – with alarmingly limited options for evacuation. Many refugees have expressed anxiety about their future, explaining that while they wish to return, they would not agree to do so until questions of citizenship, legal rights, and access to services, justice and restitution are addressed.