Who are the Rohingya?
The Rohingya are a mainly Muslim ethnic minority group consisting of an estimated 1.1 million people in Myanmar. Around 90–95% of the Rohingya live in northern Rakhine.
According to the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State published in August 2017, some 10% of the world’s stateless people live in Myanmar, and the Rohingya in Rakhine constitute the single biggest stateless community in the world.
The community faces a number of restrictions which affect basic rights and many aspects of their daily lives.
What happened in Rakhine state?
In the early hours of 25 August 2017, violence broke out in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The extent and implications remain uncertain. It is not known how many more Rohingya are still trapped in conflict zones of Rakhine state, where needs are unknown and access virtually impossible.
ActionAid is especially concerned about the impact of the violence on women and girls, who are in particular need of protection and assistance. The Government of Myanmar has restricted humanitarian access to Rakhine state. This means that UN agencies and NGOs are unable to provide aid and immediate relief to civilians in desperate need.
Who is most affected by the Rohingya refugee crisis?
ActionAid Bangladesh reports that women are heavily affected, as well as those with disabilities and the elderly. They also note a high number of unaccompanied children arriving in Bangladesh who either have lost their parents during the displacement or were brought over by their extended family members.
ActionAid staff in Cox’s Bazar, the Bangladeshi city and port where most of the Rohingya have sought shelter having arrived from the Myanmar border, estimate that approximately 60% of refugees are single mothers. The most urgent needs are for shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene.
During the monsoon and cyclone season, hailstorms, heavy wind and rain and lightning put lives at risk. Without additional support, the lives of the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees are at risk. Flooding can prevent thousands of refugees from receiving aid and if toilets and wastewater overflow, the risk of waterborne diseases spreading is high.
Farah Kabir, the Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, said in 2018: “One year on, Rohingya women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the refugee crisis. Those we work to support are bearing the physical, and mental scars of what they’ve experienced – including shocking sexual violence, pregnancy through rape, and a painful and dangerous journey to Bangladesh.”
Today, amid extreme poverty and desperation, women and girls in the camps face intimate partner violence, forced marriage, and the threat of sexual violence. Now more than ever, the international community must listen to these women, who are claiming their rights and calling for a just solution to their plight.
ActionAid appreciates the Government of Bangladesh for having the border open with Myanmar and encourages it to continue ensuring the safe passage of Rohingya people fleeing the violence, as well as the people of Bangladesh who are hosting and supporting the refugees with food, shelter and other aid upon arrival.
What is ActionAid doing in Bangladesh to help Rohingya refugees?
ActionAid is responding to the crisis in in Mainnerghona refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, where we are delivering a lifesaving humanitarian response to over 64,000 refugees.
- We’ve distributed 14,486 blankets to 7,893 families
- With the arrival of the monsoon season, we began using sand bags and fencing to stabilize areas that are vulnerable to landslides and improving drainage systems to prevent floods reaching shelters, washrooms, and food distribution areas
- We’ve since helped 1,503 people – 240 families – to move to safer areas to avoid the flood-prone areas of the camps
- We’ve installed 291 solar street lights
- We’ve installed 15 water and sanitation service blocks, each consisting of 4 toilets and 2 bathing spaces
- Working closely with women-led committees in the camps, we’ve provided safe drinking water, food, blankets, dignity kits, alternative cooking fuel and access to washrooms to more than 40,000 refugees.