100 Days Since Start of Crisis, Needs of Rohingya Refugees, Local Community Continue to Grow

Men wait to be seen by the doctor at the IOM-supported Kutupalong Community Healthcare Clinic, which services both Rohingya refugees and the local Bangladesh community. Photo: Olivia Headon / IOM 2017

Cox’s Bazar – It is now over 100 days since an upsurge in violence in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State forced some 625,792 Rohingya refugees to flee into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The conditions of the congested settlements, where the refugees are now living, are extremely dire.

The impact of this influx can be felt widely in the already impoverished local communities living in the region, struggling to survive, such that the UN Humanitarian Response Plan aims to reach 300,000 members of the local community in need of assistance.

The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation is not only of concern in the refugee settlements, where over 60 per cent of water is contaminated with E.coli, but also, in the local communities living nearby.

"Access to clean water and safe sanitation services is a problem for the communities hosting refugees in Cox's Bazar," said Alessandro Petrone, WASH Programme Manager for IOM's Rohingya Response. "A global and up to date WASH assessment providing a proper gaps analysis and an activities plan is urgently needed. IOM is developing a rated assessment tool and will deploy teams to the field in the coming days to support this work," said Petrone.

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has constructed more than 3,800 latrines and 159 wells in six host community locations - Whykong, Palonkhali, Jaliapalong, Kutupalong, Rajapalong and Baharchora.

More than 30,000 host community members now have access to safe water and sanitation services. To ensure sustainability and to generate employment, IOM has trained and equipped local tube well caretakers.

Village Development Committees responsible for the overall management of these facilities were also established by IOM. Active community participation from the initial needs assessments to implementation and management has meant that facilities are well maintained and efficiently used.

Since 25 August,  IOM health teams in Cox’s Bazar have provided emergency and primary healthcare services to over 100,000 patients from the Rohingya and local Bangladeshi communities.

IOM supports 19 health facilities, nine of which provide services to both communities. At the community clinics located very close to the refugee settlements, including Kutupalong and Leda, approximately 30 per cent of patients seen are from the local Bangladeshi community. 

Under IOM’s outreach preventive programme, health promoters visit families in Ukhiya and Teknaf, sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar where the refugee settlements have developed, to register pregnant women and children, encourage and ensure antenatal and postnatal care visits, provide first aid care and refer complicated cases to IOM-supported centres for further treatment.

For more information, please contact

Fiona MacGregor at IOM Cox’s Bazar, Tel: +8801733335221, Email:  

Shirin Ahkter at IOM Dhaka, Tel: +880 2 55044811-13, Email: