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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

5 years on: humanitarian needs remain urgent for Rohingya refugees

Child's arm being measured
© Nihab Rahman/WFP

25 August 2022 marks 5 years since a military crackdown in Myanmar forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes to reach Bangladesh.

Today, nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees continue to live in difficult conditions, entirely depending on humanitarian aid. They live in the world’s largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar.

The EU continues to support the Rohingya refugees with humanitarian projects focused on food, nutrition, protection, and health care, among others.

Already present in the area for over a decade, the EU, together with its humanitarian partners, has provided vital support to both Rohingya refugees and host communities since the beginning of the crisis.

To date, the EU has allocated over €320 million for the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the region.

Meet some Rohingya refugees who are benefiting from humanitarian projects funded by the European Union.


Access to food is a challenge among Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar camps, who remain fully dependent on aid to meet their needs.

With EU humanitarian funding, World Food Programme (WFP) provides food assistance to the refugees through e-vouchers. This modality gives them the freedom to choose their preferred food at a network of WFP outlets in the camps.

Food stall
© Sayed Asif Mahmud/WFP

With e-vouchers, refugees can purchase common staples such as rice, fortified cooking oil, eggs, and lentils.

They can also use their monthly entitlements in fresh food corners with a selection of seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, like chicken and fish.

This assistance also provides substantial economic opportunities for the host community.


The influx of refugees has exacerbated the already dire nutrition and food security situation< in Cox’s Bazar, one of the country’s poorest districts.

Low food security and unhygienic living conditions have resulted in drastic levels of malnutrition amongst the refugees.

The EU and WFP ensure vulnerable people, especially children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, meet their dietary needs through various actions, including the provision of special nutritious food and targeted supplementary assistance to treat women and children who are identified as malnourished.


Child showing her workbook
© Imrul Islam/NRC

Children and adolescents make up over 50% of the Rohingya refugee population in Cox’s Bazar.

Almost 2 years of schools’ closure during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a very concerning learning gap and dropout which is especially affecting girls.

The EU works with partners, including Norwegian Refugee Council, to set up learning centres and provide essential education continuity for Rohingya children. These centres also serve as a safe space for children who are at increasing risk of exploitation.

In addition, a pilot programme enabling digital learning has been introduced. This initiative gives older students, such as single mothers who have not had chances for education for many years, an opportunity to study.

Boys in schoolbanks
© Lateef/UNICEF Bangladesh

Following the successful launch of the Myanmar curriculum pilot and scale-up, Rohingya refugee children can now study the national curriculum of their home country.

We are studying history under the new Myanmar curriculum,” says 13-year-old Jashim who is attending a class at one of the EU-funded UNICEF learning centres. “I love learning about the history of my home country.”

Thanks to EU humanitarian funding, UNICEF also has trained some 80 teachers to help with their lesson planning and delivery.


Protection is a key need for Rohingya refugees in the region. With no legal protection mechanisms currently in place, the Rohingyas are considered ‘illegal migrants’ and are at risk of arrest, arbitrary detention, exploitation, and deportation.

Health care

Mostly living in dilapidated and overcrowded conditions, Rohingya refugees are exposed to numerous health risks. Yet, they do not have access to reliable health care.

The EU funds partners like Save the Children to provide necessary health services to vulnerable Rohingya refugees. This includes improving access to primary health care, addressing specific health needs of women and girls as well as including reproductive services.

"I went there when I had pain. On the following day, my baby was born,” says Jannat recalling the time her daughter was born. “If Save the Children hadn't come and taken me, I wouldn't have had my baby, I wouldn't have hoped to live," Jannat said.

Mother with a crying baby
© Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

*Names have been changed for protection reasons.

Story by Mallika Panorat, Regional Information and Communications Assistant for Asia and the Pacific, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 25/08/2022