In the year since the mass displacement of refugees from Myanmar into Bangladesh, Canadians have provided life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of people who desperately needed it. The Humanitarian Coalition (HC), through its seven member agencies, and with the support of the Canadian government and generous Canadians, raised $8.2 million and has responded to the needs of some 350,000 people.
In the space of a few weeks, starting on August 25, 2017, more than 700,000 people - 80% of whom were women and children - fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. They joined another 200,000 Rohingya refugees, living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, close to the Myanmar border, who had escaped violence. Over a two-month period at the end of last year, the refugee population in Cox's Bazar more than quadrupled.
Refugees lived in makeshift homes or even outdoors with little access to food, health care and water. This dramatically increased the range of risks to which they were exposed, including disease, malnutrition, and child protection issues such as human trafficking, sexual abuse, child labour and child marriage.
HC members responded to the Rohingya Crisis by providing assistance to refugees in Cox’s Bazar and in communities on both sides of the border. Over the past year, HC members have installed wells and built latrines, created safe spaces for women and children, supported unaccompanied children, distributed food rations, and constructed shelters.
According to HC member agencies, the ongoing needs of the Rohingya refugees are critical. The onset of the monsoon season in June brought heavy rain, flooding, landslides and high winds that damaged or destroyed some of the shelters. Oxfam Quebec reports that one third of women in Cox’s Bazar feel unsafe. According to Save the Children, 6,000 unaccompanied children face crippling food shortages and are at increased risk of exploitation and abuse. The camps are full beyond capacity and the conditions are not yet in place for the safe return of refugees to their homes.
HC member agencies and their international partners continue to respond to humanitarian needs around the world.