ACTED started its activities in Bangladesh in 2017 in order to respond to the urgent needs of the Rohingya refugee populations arriving in the country.
Since the summer of 2017, violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, has driven more than 700,000 members of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic minority across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The speed and scale of this displacement triggered a critical humanitarian emergency.
A large proportion of the refugees have settled in the Kutupalong Balukhali camp and are reliant on humanitarian assistance for their survival. The poor hygiene conditions, insufficient sanitation facilities and limited educational and work opportunities create an arduous existence for camp residents. In addition, the Rohingya suffer from uncertainties about their future and an unclear legal status, putting immense psychological pressure on the refugees.
In collaboration with its Alliance2015 partner Helvetas, ACTED has been responding to the emergency with site management support since February 2018. The operations started in two camps and have gradually increased to four camps benefitting more than 80,000 refugees. Camp management is a vital aspect of a humanitarian response in camp settings, as it contributes to ensuring the access of refugees to basic services in a protective environment. Through its activities, ACTED has improved coordination and information sharing among different stakeholders in the camps, including humanitarian partners, local authorities and donors.
From June until September, Bangladesh experiences heavy monsoon rains, which are preceded and succeeded by cyclonic storms. Rohingya refugees live in shelters made of bamboo and plastic sheets in a camp setting characterized by hilly terrain and sandy soil. Therefore, the risk of landslides, mudslides and flash floods caused by the monsoon creates life-threatening living conditions. To protect the refugees from these risks, ACTED coordinated the relocation of several hundred families to camp areas that are better protected from natural disasters. Furthermore, ACTED’s team took over the management of a newly established camp where almost 6,000 families found a new home that is more resistant to harsh weather conditions. During the cyclone season, ACTED provided families with tools with which to stabilise their shelters. Rohingya community members were closely involved in ACTED’s emergency preparedness and response activities as “Safety Unit Volunteers” who helped refugees who experienced difficulties.