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Joint Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (J-MSNA): Bangladesh Rohingya Refugees - December 2021

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Over the last four decades, Rohingya refugees have been fleeing in successive waves to Bangladesh from Rakhine State, Myanmar. Periodic outbreaks of violence led to large exoduses of refugees in particular in 1978, between 1991 and 1992, and in other short waves prior to August 2017.1 Since August 2017, an estimated 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, where approximately 900,000 refugees are now residing in 34 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas.2, 3 With limited access to regular income and livelihood opportunities, the Rohingya refugee population in the 34 camps is highly reliant on humanitarian assistance.4 While the crisis is now in its fifth year, prospects of return of refugees to Myanmar continue to be uncertain.5 At the same time, structural factors, including a lack of formal education in camps, insufficient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) provisions, and weak shelter infrastructure continue to challenge the response.

Moreover, large camp areas are located in hilly, formerly forested areas that are highly vulnerable to landslides and flash-flooding during the monsoon season, as witnessed most recently, in August 2021, during a large flood event that affected more than 80,000 individuals.7 Camps are further affected by fires that spread easily between the tightly constructed shelters, as also seen earlier this year, in March 2021, when a large fire affected close to 50,000 individuals.

Lastly, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures put in place in camps on 24 March 2020 severely restricted humanitarian access and service delivery to the highly aid-dependent refugee communities throughout much of 2020. With only a limited number of essential services having been provided and severely disrupted access to self-reliance activities and cash among the refugee community, pre-existing needs were exacerbated, in particular related to food security, health-seeking behaviour, education, and protection. Moreover, households’ capacities to meet their needs and cope with service gaps, including recurring ones, such as monsoon induced shelter damage, were considerably reduced. As a result, households increasingly turned towards more extreme coping strategies, with potential negative long-term impacts on household and individual well-being, in particular among the most at-risk populations.9 A renewed lockdown, implemented in April 2021, may have further aggravated the situation.

Against this background, a Joint Multi-Sector Needs Assessment (J-MSNA) was conducted across Rohingya refugee and host community populations to support detailed humanitarian planning to meet the multi-sectoral needs of the affected populations and enhance the ability of operational partners to meet the strategic aims of donors and coordinating bodies. The general objective of the J-MSNA was to inform evidence-based strategic planning of humanitarian response activities by the Strategic Executive Group (SEG), the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG)
Secretariat, sectors, and sector partners, through the provision of up-to-date, relevant and comparable information on the multi-sectoral needs of the refugee populations in Teknaf and Ukhiya Upazilas.

The 2021 J-MSNA built on previous MSNAs, most notably the 2019 and 2020 J-MSNAs, with the aim to facilitate an understanding of the evolution of needs and service gaps across time, where possible. It was funded by UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The assessment was coordinated through the Inter Sector Coordination Group's (ISCG) MSNA Technical Working Group (TWG), led by the ISCG and composed of UNHCR, IOM Needs and Population Monitoring (IOM NPM), World Food Programme Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (WFP VAM), ACAPS, and Helvetas with REACH as a technical partner. Sectors were actively involved in research design, preparations for data collection, and the discussion of results and analyses. This report focuses on the findings relating to the Rohingya refugee component of the J-MSNA.