Rohingya refugees and humanitarians have faced unprecedented challenges in 2023, including fires, cyclones, and ongoing threats of monsoon-related disasters, putting their resilience to the test. Photo: IOM


As the Rohingya crisis reaches its sixth year in Bangladesh, the situation of nearly one million refugees remains unchanged, caught in a cycle of uncertainty and vulnerability. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is urging the global community to ensure the provision of essential humanitarian aid and long-term support for both Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them.

On August 25, 2017, hundreds of thousands of individuals fled violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state to seek refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Since then, Cox’s Bazar has become home to the world's largest refugee settlement, accommodating nearly one million refugees, with children constituting half of this population.

In the present year, humanitarian organizations have requested USD 876 million to assist about 1.47 million people, encompassing both Rohingya refugees and local communities. Nevertheless, the funds amassed for this Joint Response Plan have only reached almost 29 percent of the target as of mid-year. This shortfall underscores the urgent requirement for sustained and consistent financial support for the refugees, who heavily rely on humanitarian assistance.

"The vital funding that upholds the hopes and aspirations of these refugees is diminishing, casting a cloud of uncertainty over their future," remarked Abdusattor Esoev, IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission. "The international community must reaffirm its unwavering commitment to these vulnerable individuals, as well as to the Bangladeshi communities that have shown solidarity over the years."

Six years since the crisis began, there is a growing necessity to empower Rohingya refugees through enhanced access to education, skill training, and sustainable livelihood opportunities – essential components of their well-being. Presently, there exists a significant reliance on humanitarian aid for basic necessities due to limited opportunities.

"This situation disproportionately affects specific segments of the community, particularly individuals with disabilities, households headed by women, and those lacking avenues for income generation," Esoev stated. "As a result, these groups face compounded challenges, leaving them susceptible to adopting harmful survival strategies such as human smuggling and trafficking."

The current year has put the refugees' resilience and the dedication of humanitarians to a severe test, surpassing previous challenges. A devastating fire swept through the camps in March, followed by a cyclone in May, and now the monsoon rains, floods, and landslides are further endangering refugees' lives.

Despite funding gaps and other obstacles, IOM, along with humanitarian partners and in close cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh, continues to provide life-saving aid and essential services to refugees and host communities.

IOM's efforts encompass shelter and non-food items, alternative fuel (liquefied petroleum gas-LPG), protection, health services (including mental health and psychosocial support), water, sanitation, and hygiene resources, and skill development opportunities. IOM is also actively engaged in site management and development, promoting social cohesion, disaster risk management, needs and population monitoring (NPM), and overall coordination.


WorldCon 75, Scott Lynch; photo by Jana Blomqvist


WorldCon 75, Robin Hobb; photo by Jana Blomqvist


Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016