Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)3.30 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.2.60 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.3.50 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.3.50 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.4.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
The Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar not recognised by the country’s constitution, have long-been marginalised and persecuted. Rakhine state was historically home to 1.2 million Rohingya, making up nearly 40% of the state’s population. However, decades of violence have forced many to flee the country. The most severe and most recent episode took place in August 2017, when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group claiming to fight for the liberation of the Rohingya, but also accused of massacres against Hindus in Rakhine, attacked multiple Myanmar police posts. A violent military campaign followed, in which the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) is accused of the widespread killing of civilians and burning of Rohingya villages.?
The majority of displaced Rohingya have settled in Cox’s Bazar in neighbouring Bangladesh (850,000), especially since August 2017, when more than 700,000 fled Rakhine state. Small populations are found in other countries of South Asia, especially Malaysia (100,000) and India (17,000).?
The condition of refugees outside Myanmar remains dire. Camps in Bangladesh are extremely crowded and refugees lack legal status and face extreme restrictions on movement, making them dependent on humanitarian assistance. Rohingya in Malaysia are considered ‘illegal immigrants’ and are at risk of arrest. Some have established livelihoods, though most remain in precarious situations, living in crowded communal housing and without access to healthcare, education, and legal work opportunities.?
Discussions surrounding repatriation have increased in recent years, though Rohingya and the international community have rejected the prospect of return until safety in Myanmar can be guaranteed.?
A boat carrying 40 Rohingya made landfall in Bangladesh on 3 May. Some 29 people were detained by authorities and at least 10 others fled. Those in custody have been moved to Bhasan Char, the uninhabited island where Bangladesh plans to relocate refugees from Cox’s Bazar, a plan criticized by UN agencies and NGOs because the island is prone to floods and cyclones. Humanitarian needs of those taken to the island are unclear. The small boat likely originated from one of the large trawlers drifting at sea with hundreds of Rohingya refugees onboard.?
For more information related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh, see content below.
Impact of COVID-19
The Government of Bangladesh has suspended all but essential activities in all 34 Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar as of 24 March 2020. All shops and markets in the camps are closed and site management staff will be reduced by 50%. Non-essential programs that will be suspended until further notice include education and learning centres, friendly spaces and community centres, and training facilities. The distribution of shelter kits and material as well as registration and verification processes will also be suspended for 15 days. Essential services that will remain open and staffed include: information and awareness sessions related to COVID-19, health and nutrition facilities and services, distribution of food, WASH activities.?
Restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak have resulted in governments refusing entry to boats of Rohingya refugees. On 15 April, Bangladesh authorities intercepted a fishing trawler in the Bay of Bengal with nearly 400 Rohingya onboard; the refugees had been at sea for nearly two months since being turned away from Malaysia. Reports indicate at least 30 people died on the boat as food and water supplies diminished. The survivors have been taken to Cox's Bazar and placed in quarantine. On 16 April, the Malaysian military intercepted and pushed back a second boat, preventing it from entering Malaysian waters. The boat, which has 200 Rohingya onboard, has not been seen since. The Malaysian military provided food supplies to those onboard before pushing them back to sea and justified the response by saying the refugees could bring COVID-19 into Malaysia, where the entry of foreigners has been banned since mid-March. Bangladesh has also announced that as of 22 April they will no longer accept Rohingya refugees or rescue boats in international waters. According to MSF reports, as many as 1,000 Rohingya on three different boats are currently stranded off the coasts of Malaysia and Bangladesh.?
The ACAPS team is monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information related to the outbreak, see the ACAPS COVID-19 Project.
Protection: Rohingya lack citizenship status in Myanmar and formal refugee status in Bangladesh. This allows them to be subjected to extreme restrictions, including limitations on movement and communications, confinement to camps, and limited access to basic services. Security is a concern in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, but especially in Rakhine, where conflict and human rights violations are common.?
Livelihoods: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and those remaining in Rakhine are not allowed to participate in formal work. Rohingya often adopt negative coping mechanisms to pay for basic services, including selling humanitarian aid, engaging in risky migration, and recruitment into the conflict.?
WASH: More than 130,000 IDPs in Rakhine have been confined to camps since 2012. In Bangladesh, 850,000 refugees are living in 34 extremely congested camps. There is a lack of access to clean water, and sanitation infrastructure is poor. Needs peak during the monsoon season which brings floods and increases dependence on contaminated water sources.?