For the nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, 2021 marks the fourth year since their mass displacement from Myanmar, which was preceded by decades of influxes triggered by systematic discrimination and targeted violence.
Over the past few decades, nearly 1 million Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmar in search of peace and safety. While many fled across borders, some remain displaced in Rakhine State. #RohingyaResponsepic.twitter.com/KUam88f0Rn
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) May 18, 2021
The 2021 Joint Response Plan joins Bangladesh with 134 UN agencies and NGO partners to “meet the needs of more than 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar District”, said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.
Although Bangladesh and the international community have been providing immediate life-saving assistance, the needs are immense.
And complex challenges continue to emerge and reshape the nature of the response, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has compounded vulnerabilities for refugees and host communities alike.
Although the trajectory of the virus remains unpredictable, Bangladesh, with the support of the humanitarian community, has effectively managed the COVID-19 response and the spread of the disease in the large Rohingya camps and surrounding areas.
New layers of complexity include the ongoing crisis and political instability across the nearby Myanmar border.
Beyond physical safety
The needs of Rohingya refugees reach beyond subsistence and physical safety, they also require access to education and options for a decent life, according to the UN agencies.
To mitigate the risks of refugees taking dangerous onward journeys by land or sea to find a solution elsewhere, more must be done to provide hope for refugees sheltering in Bangladesh, and a realistic future back home.
“The search for durable solutions must remain focused on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar, when conditions allow them to do so”, they said.
Meanwhile, it is critical to maintain the delivery of all humanitarian assistance and protection services.
“The international community must continue to advocate for sustainable solutions in Myanmar that would eventually facilitate what all Rohingya refugees have consistently voiced as their main concern – to return home”, said IOM chief António Vitorino