Rohingya: 5 ways to respond during extended crises

A million refugees still live in very precarious conditions with little hope of being able to return. Find out what our partner NGOs are doing with your donations to improve the everyday lives of the Rohingya refugees.

Never-ending exile

Over two years have passed since countless members of the Rohingya ethnic minority fled en masse to the camps in Bangladesh after suffering violence in Myanmar. A million refugees still live in very precarious conditions with little hope of being able to return. Given the situation, what is the best way to support them?

While no one can guarantee a safe return to Myanmar, nearly a million Rohingya are still living in Bangladesh in one of the world’s largest refugee camps, in very precarious and dangerous conditions. At the mercy of monsoon floods and exposed to the risk of epidemics, many refugees lack food and healthcare. After two years in exile, the lack of prospects is making the wait even harder to bear. To help them cope, our partner NGOs are meeting emergency needs and providing ongoing support. Here are five examples of how:

1. Sustaining emergency relief projects

During this protracted crisis, the situation is still desperate for those living in the camps of Cox’s Bazar. After providing shelters and caring for the sick and injured from the early days of the Rohingya people’s mass exodus to Bangladesh, our partner NGOs have been there for these refugees.

The NGOs provide medical care to those who have none and nutritional support to pregnant women and malnourished children; they reinforce shelters and latrines in preparation for the inevitable monsoon floods; they dig wells to provide access to drinking water; and they continue to distribute household items and shelter materials. They also strive to meet the needs of the population, while ensuring that the assistance they provide is sustainable.

2. Innovating to improve everyday lives

Growing vegetables when you don’t own land and have nothing but a shelter to your name sounds impossible. But in the overpopulated camps of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, simple and innovative solutions are making a world of difference in people’s everyday lives. For example, the Rohingya receive technical advice from our partner NGOs on how to grow vegetables in portable bags or on shelter walls and roofs. Doing so not only allows them to supplement their meals, but also enables them to earn money for their families.

What about cooking? Our partner organisations have an innovative solution for that as well: stoves which run on biogas from latrines.

3.Helping children continue learning

More than half of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children. Our partner NGOs protect them from abuse and exploitation and care for those separated from their parents. For these children, living in exile in tenuous conditions has meant having to interrupt their schooling, preventing them from learning and being able to dream of a bright future. Thanks to the education programmes run by our partner organisations, children can take part in psychosocial activities or simply play in a number of safe spaces within the camp. Educators and parents also benefit from pedagogy courses and teacher training to support children as they learn.

4.Better managing the camp environment

Building latrines and better managing waste, specifically by distributing rubbish bins and organising their collection and recycling, helps stem the spread of disease by fostering better hygiene. These projects by our partner NGOs in Bangladesh also improve the living environment, not only for refugees in the camps, but also for the host community. Several thousand fruit trees were planted near the shelters.

5.Getting involved for one’s community

Jannat, a Rohingya refugee, volunteers with one of our partner NGOs in Bangladesh. She provides parents with training on sound nutritional practices for their children. Raising awareness about health and human rights, disseminating information about the services available in the camp, approaching and supporting the most vulnerable people, identifying abuses…

The Rohingya people are involved in helping their own community, bringing their skills to our partner NGOs’ projects in Bangladesh. While engaging in a rewarding task, these people use their language skills and knowledge of their community to help make relief work more effective and culturally appropriate.