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Rohingya Crisis

Bangladesh Rohingya Crisis

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have crossed over to Bangladesh, fleeing violence.

They are living in terrible conditions and need life-saving assistance now. Oxfam is responding, providing clean water, sanitation and essential supplies to thousands of people.

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Last updated: 11/12/18

Sameera, 7 years old Rohingya girl holds her younger brother Omar who is 7 months old in front of their temporary shelter in one of the camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Photo: Turjoy Chowdhury / Disasters Emergency Committee

Sameera, a seven year-old Rohingya girl holds her younger brother Omar, who is seven months, in front of their temporary shelter in one of the camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

The situation

Close to a million Rohingya people have fled unimaginable atrocities in Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. More than 700,000 have arrived since August 2017, and people are still arriving.

The main camp is now the largest refugee camp in the world with over 600,000 refugees. The conditions in the camps remain poor. Oxfam and  other humanitarian organisations are focusing on how to create long term sustainable refugee camps for people. 

Water supply, water purification, and storage facilities are needed immediately. Due to the inadequate sanitation facilities, there's a high probability for the spread of waterborne diseases. 

Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam

Laila* arrived on Shah Porir Dwip island on 30 September with her two young children. She initially spent the night taking shelter in a local school before travelling by boat to mainland Bangladesh. (* Name changed)

Tommy Trenchard / Oxfam

  • People are living in flimsy shelters made of tarpaulin and bamboo on bare soil - these will not be able to withstand major storms.
  • Close to 700,000 people are squashed into an area far too small to safely accommodate them - the number of people per square km is more than 1000 times what is recommended for refugee camps .
  • Heavy rains could make footpaths that refugees rely on to collect water and food, and go to the toilet, totally unusable. It's estimated that half a million people could struggle to get vital aid and services during the monsoon.
  • A quarter of latrines are at risk of being affected by floods and landslides.
  • More than half of the refugees are women and girls. Over half [60 percent] are children under 18 and around 3% are aged over 60. [Source: UNHCR household survey] There are 120,000 pregnant women and new mothers. Around 36,000 are unaccompanied children.

Latest press releases

Oxfam's response

Oxfam is providing vital aid including clean water and food to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. So far, we've reached at least 266,000 people (and we are planning to reach 300,000). 

We currently have a team of 146 people in Cox's Bazar - 120 of whom are Bangladeshi - working hard to provide emergency aid in a $25 million response. This is currently Oxfam's third biggest humanitarian program - after Yemen and Ethiopia.

We're helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials like sanitary cloths. We have recruited more than 300 Rohingya volunteers to help us train 11,000 refugees about the importance of good hygiene.

We're installing a large sewage facility to process the waste of 50,000 people, which will rise to 100,000. To help local communities cope with water shortages, we are providing around 385,000 litres of chlorinated water daily in the Teknaf area.

We're providing almost 24,000 households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for fresh vegetables and ingredients to supplement their basic rations - the 13 items available include spinach, potatoes, eggs, dried fish and spices. 

We have installed solar-powered lights around the camp and provided torches and portable solar lanterns so that refugees - especially women - feel safer leaving their shelters after dark to reach water points and toilets. We have worked with refugees to design new toilets and wash rooms that afford more safety and privacy and are more suited to their needs. We're also supplying fabric and vouchers for tailors - many refugees arrived with only the clothes they were wearing.

Monsoon work

To help refugees move from low-lying land to safer ground, Oxfam is supporting the UN to expand the giant Ukhiya camp and the smaller camp at Teknaf, by building water and sanitation infrastructure, tube wells, water piping and latrines. 

Oxfam has built more than 200 deep tube wells and over 400 shallow tube wells which help to prevent water being contaminated after a heavy rain fall and leading to an outbreak of disease. We've also built a large sewage treatment plant, decommissioned 30,000 full pit toilets, and installed new longer-lasting toilets - including with tiger worms in the sceptic tanks to compost the waste. 

Bekki Frost

15 tonnes of vital water and sanitation equipment was loaded onto trucks at the Oxfam Supply Centre in Bicester on 22 September.

Bekki Frost

Oxfam's Bekki Frost reports from Bangladesh on the plight of half a million Rohingya refugees.