Bangladesh continues to be a haven for over 919,000 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.
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. The country’s humanitarian situation is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 745,000 Rohingya fled across the border in search of protection and assistance.
The scale of the influx has put a tremendous strain on existing services in the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar, which currently hosts 892,000 Rohingya. Approximately 27,000 Rohingya refugees are also hosted on the Bangladeshi island of Bhasan Char.
Being the world’s largest stateless population, most of them without formal refugee status, the Rohingya can’t pursue education or formal employment. 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.
The frequency, unpredictability and severity of these disasters are likely to be adversely affected by (i) global warming, (ii) population growth, (iii) environmental degradation, and (iv) ill-maintained infrastructure - all contributing to increasing humanitarian needs.
The rapid surge of COVID-19 cases, coupled with a slow initial vaccination rollout, impacted the country’s health systems and socio-economy. The situation in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar remains of particular concern.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU is providing around €43 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 includes food assistance, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, healthcare services, education, shelter, and increased protection for the most vulnerable groups.
When severe floods submerged large regions of north-east and northern Bangladesh in June, the EU swiftly mobilised an additional €1.2 million in humanitarian aid funding for emergency relief assistance.
The aid will benefit affected and displaced people in the worst-hit regions and be channelled through our EU humanitarian partners on the ground.
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 action in highly flood-prone and cyclone-prone areas. We also support building flood-resistant infrastructure and early warning systems, and disaster preparedness in congested urban settings such as Dhaka.
The EU has been working in Bangladesh since 2002, both in disaster preparedness and emergency response activities, with a total funding of more than €364 million.
EU humanitarian aid provides life-saving support to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in the camps and settlements in in Cox’s Bazar.
Last updated: 24/06/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2019 (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
More than 919,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar
EU humanitarian aid and disaster preparedness:
€42.9 million in 2022
€38.1 million in 2021
€364 million since 2002