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UNHCR Bangladesh Operational Update, 1 - 30 November 2019

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805,673 persons have now received identity documents under the Government of Bangladesh-UNHCR Joint Registration process. The main part of the process is due to finish soon.

UNHCR launched a cash distribution for vulnerable families in the host community in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, as part of the agency’s continued commitment to support local areas hosting refugees.

Cyclone Bulbul hit Bangladesh on 9/10 November affecting coastal areas in the northwest, but it had limited impact on the refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, except for heavy rain and winds.

Operational Context


Cyclone Bulbul hit Bangladesh and India in early November, with minimal impact on refugee camps

  • A low-pressure system called “Cyclone Bulbul” formed in the Bay of Bengal during the first week of November. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department BMD issued a series of warnings setting in motion activities under the Bangladesh Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP).

  • UNHCR and other humanitarian actors in Cox’s Bazar worked closely with the CPP on mobilising resources to potentially respond to cyclone landfall, if any, near Cox’s Bazar. Contingency stocks were checked, and Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) were formed. Some 10 ERTs were put on standby consisting of 45 individuals from Protection, WASH, Shelter, and other key technical teams.

  • On 8 November, a cyclone warning flag was raised in the camps by the CPP. One flag is the lowest level warning in a three-flag cyclone warning system. The hoisting of the first flag activated uniform messaging by volunteers with microphones throughout the camps on the potential threat. With the threat lowering, the flag was taken down by 10 November.

  • There was no direct impact from the cyclone on the refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar as they are situated in the southern region of Bangladesh. However, the cyclone resulted in heavier than usual rain in the camps for two days with light damage to infrastructure and shelters from wind. Less than 400 refugees required assistance for repairs or other support for shelters. While the cyclone did not heavily affect the camps, preparations undertaken for Cyclone Bulbul were useful and helped to identify potential weaknesses in the response and some areas were identified that need further synchronization with the national Government-led response and improvements on initial communication both with the authorities and between humanitarian actors.