Rohingya Crisis: Four Years On

Rohingya crisis anniversary - Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger teams distribute cooked meals to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Photo: Kathleen Prior for Action Against.

August 25, 2021 marks the fourth year of the Rohingya crisis. In 2017, thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. Action Against Hunger stands with this vulnerable population, which continues to face difficult conditions upon arrival.

Currently, about 1.2 million Rohingya live in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh – the largest refugee camps in the world. Much of Bangladesh’s dense population already lives in poverty, and the country does not have the means to adequately accommodate the displaced Rohingya population, resulting in a severe shortage of resources.

Our emergency response

In response to this ongoing crisis, Action Against Hunger is providing emergency assistance to help the Rohingya in Bangladesh. In the first four months after the mass arrivals in 2017, our teams reached 603,243 refugees.

  • We distributed 21,055 emergency shelter kits, about 22,000 winter blankets and 10,881 mosquito nets.
  • We served nearly 3 million hot meals. Our teams also examined 263,045 children under the age of 5, and subsequently treated 8,251 cases of severe acute malnutrition.
  • We have installed 3,875 latrines, 66 wells and 101 emergency drinking water points in the camps, as well as distributing more than 6 million litres of drinking water.
  • We have provided psychosocial support to 250,566 new arrivals to help them cope with the trauma and stress of their experience.

Challenging living conditions

The Rohingya are arriving in Bangladesh without adequate clothing or food. The living conditions inside the camps are catastrophic: overcrowded, poorly lit, and lacking adequate sanitation facilities. Residents of the camps, particularly women and children, are vulnerable to violence, exploitation and human trafficking.

Furthermore, the camps are under constant threat of flooding, landslides and other disasters. Residents live in makeshift shelters made of bamboo and tarpaulins, or with no shelter at all – according to the UN, 5,000 Rohingya in the Cox’s Bazar camps have no roof over their heads. Last month heavy rains fell on the camps, and the resulting flooding and landslides destroyed many of the shelters. Mosques and cemeteries were also flooded.

In March, devastating fires tore through several of the camps, burning thousands of shelters and further exacerbating the crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has put further strain on this vulnerable population, particularly in regard to food security.

We must not give up

Despite the magnitude of the crisis, we must not give up.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, our teams in Cox’s Bazar have provided awareness sessions to 203,185 people since May 2020. These sessions have led to the implementation of hygiene promotion activities and infection prevention and control measures in the refugee camps and among local populations.

In July 2020, we coordinated the opening of a new COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre, an extension of Sadar Hospital in Cox’s Bazar. The centre is now fully operational and able to accommodate new patients. In parallel, we continue to implement programs to support local populations, particularly in the nutrition and health sector. We’re also working to improve food security and nutrition as well as access to clean water and mental health services.

Every two weeks, we distribute food parcels containing rice, legumes and cooking oil in the camps of Cox’s Bazar. We have also launched an initiative that has provided cooked meals to 38,458 people in Cox’s Bazar, serving refugees as well as the local population.


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