Bangladesh Rohingya Crisis

Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam

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Updated on 19 September, 2018  

Vulnerable Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps in Bangladesh now face further disaster, as monsoon rains are causing floods and landslides, and increasing the risk of deadly disease.  

Oxfam is racing against time to improve hygiene, sanitation and water delivery, and prepare families in the face of the expected storms.

The situation  

Close to a million Rohingya people have fled unimaginable atrocities in Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. They are now squashed into an area far too small to safely accommodate them, living in makeshift tents in hugely overcrowded settlements, on unsuitable steep land.  

Conditions are dire, with overflowing latrines and contaminated water, and bad weather will make matters worse. Rains and storms may cause major damage to the camps, further displacements, deaths and cut of access to large parts of the camps. A large-scale disease outbreak is almost inevitable. 

200,000 People Threatened  

  • During the monsoon season, around 2.5 meters of rain will fall in three months, turning camps built on dusty soil into unhealthy swamps, and making it very difficult to get aid to people.
  • Hundreds of thousands of refugees are living in flimsy shelters that can be washed away by floods or landslides; most are made of tarpaulin and bamboo and unable to withstand major storms.
  • Heavy rains make footpaths, which refugees rely on to collect water and food, and go to the toilet, totally unusable. It is estimated that half a million people could struggle to get vital aid and services during the monsoon, with women most at risk.
  • Urgent action is needed to ensure Rohingya refugees’ safety when monsoon rains hit between June and October every year in camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. So far, adverse weather during monsoon season has caused over 130 landslides, damaged 3,300 shelters and affected 28,000 people.



Oxfam is Responding  

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We are currently focusing on providing water and sanitation, and adapting our plans to better deal with the crowded conditions and sheer number of people in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.  

  • We are installing a sewage facility which will initially serve 50,000 people; this will eventually rise to 100,000.
  • We are drilling wells and installing water points, toilets and showers. To help local communities cope with water shortages, we are providing an average of 350,000 litres of chlorinated water daily in the Teknaf area.
  • We have desludged and repaired hundreds of latrines.
  • In Balukhali and Unchiprang camps, we have installed 80 women bathing cubicles.
  • In Kutupalong camp, we are testing out eight twin-pit latrines specially designed for flood-prone areas.
  • We have distributed nearly 10,000 hygiene kits so far and have recruited more than 300 Rohingya volunteers to conduct hygiene sessions on safe water, latrine cleanliness, food hygiene, handwashing, and diphtheria awareness.
  • We are also providing 23,000 households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for nutritious vegetables and ingredients to supplement their basic rations.


We have distributed nearly 10,000 hygiene kits so far and are currently providing an average of 300,000 litres of chlorinated water daily in the refugee camps. (Photo: Maruf Hasan/Oxfam)



Findings of a survey of Rohingya refugees:  

Oxfam carried out a survey of Rohingya refugees before the monsoon season and found that more than half were almost completely unprepared for the floods, landslides and disease that accompany the monsoon weather, with women most at risk.  

Press release: Rohingya refugees unprepared as monsoon rains, flooding and landslides continue 

Kate Lee, Humanitarian Programme Officer at Oxfam Hong Kong, inspected the water tanks we built together with our partner organisations, as well as the water purification system in several refugee camps. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam)
Together with a volunteer photographer, we visited a refugee camp in Bangladesh last November; we saw large groups of refugees entering the camp. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam)
Countless Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh and settled in makeshift camps like this one in Cox’s Bazar. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam)
At Unchiprang refugee camp, Oxfam is installing water tanks and pipes to supply 45,000 litres of water to 15,000 people every day. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam)
Last November, we met Abir who was flying a kite on a hill. He made the kite with his friend using a tin can as the spool, bamboo kite sticks, and string. They also cut a plastic bag that had a celebrity on it to make the kite, which made it rather eye catching in the sky. (Photo: Ko Chung Ming/Oxfam)
Sumania lives in Moinnarghona Camp in Bangladesh with her seven children. Oxfam recently installed latrines and water pumps in the camp making life more convenient for people like Sumania as she now lives just a short distance away from a latrine and a water pump. (Photo: Bekki Frost/Oxfam)
In Kutupalong refugee camp, many children collect water from Oxfam’s water pump for their family members. (Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam)
‘Oxfam distributed food parcels, which included three kilograms of flattened rice and one kilogram of sugar. This can last us two days. Today we will cook potatoes with rice for dinner,’ said Mohammad. (Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam)
In Thengkhali refugee camp, Oxfam has distributed food parcels and relief items to refugees to prevent the outbreak of cholera. (Photo: Bekki Frost/Oxfam)