Since the influx in 2017, over 900,000 Rohingya refugees have sought temporary refuge in Cox’s Bazar, and the government of Bangladesh and the international community have provided humanitarian assistance from the onset. IOM, along with other humanitarian actors, has been providing life-saving protection and assistance services to the refugee community for over six years.
For 2023, the overarching priorities of IOM remain the protection needs of the Rohingya and the provision of quality services across all sectors, including Site Management and Site Development, Shelter, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health, and Disaster Risk Reduction. Protection for the refugees is a priority for IOM, and to protect the most vulnerable, especially women and children who account for over 75 per cent of the population, IOM works with vulnerable individuals and at the community level to mitigate the risks of gender-based violence and the physical, psychosocial, and social vulnerabilities of child and human trafficking.
Health care is another major area of focus, and additional funding will enable IOM to maintain its network of community health workers, along with the 45 primary and secondary health-care centres that it supports. Together, these centres provide over 100,000 medical consultations per month. Basic health is also dependent on access to clean water and sanitation, and IOM is providing access to latrines and clean water, reaching almost 300,000 people daily. This includes running the largest solar-powered water treatment and distribution facilities in a humanitarian setting and wastewater treatment and solid waste management.
Every month, IOM supports delivering alternative sources of fuel to more than 96,000 households for cooking, contributing to food security while reducing the environmental impact. Since bamboo is the most widely used material in the camps, the IOM-run Bamboo Treatment Facility has processed over 840,000 bamboo poles, lengthening their lifespan and helping minimize pressure on forests while ensuring cost efficiency.
IOM’s appeal is part of the Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, which includes over 100 response actors comprising UN agencies and NGOs. These humanitarian actors are collectively seeking to raise more than USD 876 million through the JRP, launched on 7 March 2023, with the Government of Bangladesh.
Just two days ago, a fire tragically broke out in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, destroying around 2,000 shelters and several facilities, leaving approximately 16,000 refugees without shelter. Thankfully, no casualties were reported. IOM calls on the international community to contribute generously to its efforts to help these refugees and not forget the plight of the Rohingya in Bangladesh. The needs are immense, and meeting them is completely dependent on continued support until the Rohingya can voluntarily return to Myanmar in a safe and dignified manner.