Bangladesh continues to be a safe haven for almost 1 million Rohingya refugees. They fled brutal repression and wide-ranging discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and currently live in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district and on the island of Bhasan Char.
Bangladesh is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural hazards including cyclones, floods and earthquakes.
What are the needs?
Over the past 40 years, the Rohingya – an ethnic, religious and linguistic minority – have fled persecution and discrimination in Myanmar, mostly seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Following violent military crackdowns in northern parts of Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, more than 773,000 Rohingya have since fled across the border in search of protection and assistance in Cox’s Bazar.
The scale of the influx has put a tremendous strain on services in the border district. Approximately 30,000 Rohingya refugees are also hosted on the Bangladeshi island of Bhasan Char, where access to essential services is even more limited.
Efforts have been made to ensure better living conditions for the Rohingya refugees. However, their situation remains precarious and has been deteriorating this year due to the protracted nature of the humanitarian crisis and decreasing funding.
Being the world’s largest stateless population, most of them without formal refugee status, the Rohingya still have very limited access to education and means to earn an income. They remain vulnerable to exploitation and serious protection risks. Living in refugee camps, they depend entirely on humanitarian aid.
Due to its geographical location, Bangladesh is prone to seasonal flooding, landslides and cyclones. This makes it one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change.
Over the past decades, Bangladesh has developed emergency preparedness mechanisms which continue to save lives during major disasters. However, the frequency, unpredictability and severity of these disasters are likely to be adversely affected by global warming, population growth, and environmental degradation - all contributing to increasing humanitarian needs.
How are we helping?
In 2023, the EU is providing €23.2 million in humanitarian aid in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis. This funding also supports efforts to reduce the impact of natural hazards in highly affected parts of Bangladesh.
Humanitarian support to Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar includes food assistance, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, healthcare services, education, shelter, camp management and increased protection for the most vulnerable groups. In Bhasan Char, the EU has been supporting food assistance, nutrition and protection interventions.
In May 2023, the devastating Cyclone Mocha hit the coastline of Bangladesh. In an immediate response, the EU quickly mobilised €350,000 in emergency assistance to assist those affected in the refugee camps and among the host population.
In June last year, following severe floods submerged large regions of north-east and northern Bangladesh, the EU swiftly mobilised an additional €1.4 million for emergency relief assistance. The aid, channeled through EU humanitarian partners on the ground, helped affected and displaced people in the worst-hit regions.
Disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience remain key priority areas for the EU in Bangladesh.
The EU helps communities at risk from natural hazards, supporting early warning systems and early action in highly flood-prone and cyclone-prone areas, as well as landslide-affected areas. In addition, we support disaster preparedness in congested urban settings such as Dhaka, including through the involvement of the private sector.
The EU has been working in Bangladesh since 2002, both in disaster preparedness and emergency response activities, with a total funding of more than €390 million.
EU humanitarian aid provides life-saving support to almost 1 million Rohingya refugees living in the camps and settlements in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char. Vulnerable host communities in Cox’s Bazar are also benefiting of the EU aid.
Last updated: 25/05/2023
Facts & figures
Almost 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar
EU humanitarian aid and disaster preparedness:
€23.2 million in 2023
€46.8 million in 2022
Over €390 million since 2002