Rohingya Emergency: Over Half a Million Rohingya Refugees have Fled Violence in Myanmar

As of 7 January 2018, according to UNHCR’s family-counting exercise over 647,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August 2017.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The latest exodus began on 25 August 2017, when violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The vast majority of Rohingya refugees reaching Bangladesh are women and children, including newborn babies. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection. They have nothing and need everything.

Over half of the new arrivals have sought shelter in and around the existing refugee camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara and in makeshift sites that existed before the influx. Some have joined relatives there, while others are drawn to the assistance and services – putting immense pressure on the existing facilities.

New spontaneous settlements have sprouted overnight, raising concerns over the lack of adequate shelter, water and sanitation. Infrastructure and services are overstretched. Local villages have also taken in the new arrivals, straining their already limited resources.

The situation remains precarious as refugees continue to arrive every day. Many refugees tell horrific stories of extreme violence, several showing wounds and trauma inflicted before their flight. As more refugees arrive every day there is an acute need for emergency shelters, blankets and other forms of aid. To lessen the risk of waterborne and airborne diseases, refugees and host communities urgently need more clean water, health care and other supplies. Pregnant women, young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

This is the fastest-growing refugee emergency in the world today. Since August 25, UNHCR has airlifted 1,500 metric tons of emergency life-saving aid to Bangladesh – including blankets, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, family tents, plastic rolls, kitchen sets, jerry cans and buckets collectively valued at US$7.8 million – to assist 250,000 refugees. More aid is being moved by sea.

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