Rohingya Crisis

Since August 2017, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have had to deal with disease, malnutrition, flooding and now fire. They are in desperate need.

Rohingya Crisis

The world’s biggest refugee camp

Since outbreaks of violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya have fled the country, crossing the border to Bangladesh. Many of them have settled in informal camps in the Cox’s Bazar area, in Bangladesh’s southeast. The number of refugees in the area has swelled to nearly 900,000. The UN estimates that more than 60% of them are children. Many Rohingya arrived in the camps injured, wounded from the fighting and violence. Few brought more than the clothes on their backs. In the intervening time they have had to cope with disease, malnutrition, flooding, and COVID-19.

On March 22nd, 2021, a huge fire ripped through one of the many camps in the area, leaving at least 15 people dead and 400 missing. As many as 10,000 families lost their shelter and possessions. A massive effort is under way to ensure that they are supported with food, water, hygiene facilities and temporary shelter. Concern is at the heart of that response.

Aftermath of fire at Rohingya camp

The aftermath of the fire that destroyed 10,000 homes in Balukhali camp, Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh.

Who are the Rohingya?

Often described as the “world’s most persecuted minority,” the Rohingya are predominantly Muslim and have lived in Myanmar for generations. Many migrated from Bangladesh during British rule. After gaining independence from Britain, Myanmar, a majority Buddhist nation, refused to acknowledge the Rohingya as citizens, rendering them a stateless people. Without recognition as citizens or permanent residents of Myanmar, the Rohingya have limited access to education, jobs, and health services, resulting in chronic poverty and marginalization. There has been tension and sporadic outbreaks of violence between Rohingya communities and the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar for decades, but in recent months violence has risen sharply, driving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee into neighboring countries. The UN has described this as the “fastest-growing refugee emergency” in the world.

Men in a line

Rohingya men wait in line at a distribution site at Hakim Para in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Kieran McConville

Our Response

Concern has been working in Bangladesh since 1972 and swiftly ramped up our response to meet the needs of recent Rohingya arrivals. We have seven emergency nutrition centers up in running in various camps, with an eighth under construction. Our teams have screened hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 5 (who are most vulnerable to acute malnutrition) and well over 50,000 have been treated to date. We are also responding to the March 22nd fire, providing food and other essentials to the many affected families.

Layru* and her two-year-old daughter Hala* at a Concern nutrition support center at Hakim Para camp in Bangladesh.

Layru* and her two-year-old daughter Hala* at a Concern nutrition support center at Hakim Para camp in Bangladesh. Photo: Kieran McConville

Help us reach more Rohingya families in need: