The massive influx of Rohingya severely impacted the host community of Cox's Bazar district. The additional nearly one million Rohingya made the service and resources of two hosting sub-districts scarce and put the host community in a stressful living condition which might escalate the conflict. The local population of Teknaf and Ukhiya in the vicinity of Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps were compassionate and open-handed first responders to the influx. Initial planning assumptions foresaw an essential role in the protracted development requirements of the host community in conjunction with mitigating the influx' impact. UNHCR recognises the critical role of the Bangladeshi community in assisting the Rohingya refugees, particularly as the first responder providing food, clothing, shelter and other essential lifesaving support during the massive influx that started in August 2017.
In 2019, UNHCR implemented different projects to improve social cohesion and develop a peaceful coexistence. Project interventions initially addressed the damages on public infrastructure or systems due to the refugee influx and tried to mitigate the negative impact on the host community. UNHCR implemented 33 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) or Community Support Projects (CSPs) to achieve the objective of peaceful coexistence with local communities. Local communities were involved in the identification and implementing all the QIPs in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts, hosting most of the refugee settlements. The project addressed the following sectors that include Education, WASH, Shelter, and Energy and Environment, and intended to produce rapid results. The projects included repairs or improvements to public infrastructures or systems, repairs road network, construct drainage systems, and strengthening the local capacity for disaster preparedness and response. The projects were implemented in collaboration with BRAC and NGO Forum for Public Health. Total 138,235 people (Host community-119,943 and Refugee-18,292) benefited from the projects.
UNHCR will continue the support in 2020 to the host community to reduce the adverse impact of the refugee influx, and also for patronising the social cohesion between the two communities. UNHCR will increase coordination and collaboration with other UN and international agencies to address the unmet needs of the host community.