UN Migration Agency Appeals for USD 182 Million to Help 900,000 Rohingya Refugees, Local Community in Bangladesh

A women queues for aid in Cox’s Bazar, which is now hosting close to one million Rohingya refugees. Photo: Olivia Headon/IOM 2017

Cox’s Bazar – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is appealing for USD 182.1 million to assist 900,000 Rohingya refugees and local community members in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. IOM’s appeal is part of a broader USD 951 million UN Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis covering the same March – December 2018 period.

On 25 August 2017, a mass exodus of Rohingya refugees began from northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Fleeing an upsurge of targeted violence, nearly one million Rohingya refugees are now sheltering in Cox’s Bazar, including thousands who arrived during previous influxes.

The local rural community, which has long been in need of support, has found itself in the middle of the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. IOM is providing livelihood, environmental improvement and health support to both refugees and locals to mitigate the impact of soaring food prices and overloaded infrastructure.

“As the monsoon season approaches, we are at a vital point where we have to increase our support for people affected by the crisis – both Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshis,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, reflecting on monsoon preparedness efforts underway in Cox’s Bazar.

IOM has relocated 236 families living in areas at risk of landslide and floods to safer areas. A further 9,675 families have been trained by IOM in how to strengthen their shelters against wind and rain, and reduce the dangers associated with living on unstable, muddy hillsides.

IOM is also working to reduce the environmental impact  of  the  refugee by providing alternative sources of fuel. The refugees are currently dependent on wood for cooking, which has led to massive deforestation in the area.

“I look after 80 families, who settled down on top of this hill,” said Abu Ahammad, one of the block leaders in the refugee settlements. “It’s sandy here and people didn’t get much land, so they’ve built their houses over the whole hillside with only bamboo and tarpaulins. The sandy soil will collapse when it rains and people will die as the houses fall down on top of each other. There are also latrines over there, which will be destroyed,” he added.

As those fleeing Myanmar arrived with little or nothing, providing them with basic shelter has been vital. Over the past six months, IOM has distributed 120,000 kits, which now house some 600,000 people.

Most refugees who lived in Cox’s Bazar before August 2017 live in very poor conditions. Some 40,000 of these people have benefitted from IOM help to upgrade their shelters. Others who have arrived since the crisis in August are now also in urgent need of shelter upgrades, which IOM will continue to provide.

IOM is leading site management and site improvement work in Cox’s Bazar, while also directly managing some of the settlement sites as well. Since August 2017, it has built over seven kilometres of road, 220 bamboo bridges, seven kilometres of pedestrian pathways, five and a half kilometres of pedestrian steps with handrails and five kilometres of drainage. Improving infrastructure is particularly important for people with disabilities, elderly people and single female-headed households to assess services in the settlements.

Since August 2017, IOM has trucked 1,992 cubic metres of clean drinking water into the settlements. It has also constructed 1,949 latrines, 110 deep tube wells and 116 wash rooms, with 28 more under construction. It has also distributed 220,000 bars of soap and 30,070 hygiene kits. Crowding and poor sanitation is a major concern and through 2018 IOM will continue to improve access to safe drinking water and better sanitation.

IOM has also supported the expansion of primary, reproductive and secondary health care services, as well as public health and outreach campaigns, for both Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshis, since before the crisis. Over the past six months IOM medical staff have conducted over 242,000 consultations. Over 12,000 antenatal care sessions and some 1,400 deliveries were supported in IOM health facilities.

Through its Mental Health and Psychosocial Services (MHPSS), including  individual  counseling,  in-patient  care and patient referrals, which are currently being expanded, IOM has reached over 5,000 people since August.

IOM’s Needs and Population Monitoring Survey tracks new refugee arrivals to settlements and host communities, the number of people in each settlement and their needs. This information is shared with the entire humanitarian community to inform the humanitarian response.

Since August 2017,  IOM  has  also identified  and  assisted 15,257  extremely  vulnerable individuals (EVIs) and 37 victims of human trafficking. It has provided psychological first aid to 4,332 individuals and referred 1,887 people to specialized health facilities.

In addition, dignity kits have been distributed to 7,315 households and 20,276 solar lanterns have been distributed to vulnerable women.

IOM’s protection team carries out daily protection programming, including community outreach to EVIs and case management for survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and human trafficking. It provides counseling, legal information and conducts group psychosocial support services, in close coordination with IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Unit.

As the lead agency of the Communication with Communities (CwC) Working Group, IOM continues to advocate for the full integration of accountability to affected populations in all sectors of the response.

IOM also hosts the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) Secretariat, which coordinates the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar. Funding to continue and enhance the ISCG as the coordination structure for the emergency response is also included in IOM’s appeal.

Read the appeal summary : ¨
For more information, please contact:
IOM HQ: Olivia Headon, Tel: +41794035365, Email: