Since violence first erupted in Myanmar in 2016, the Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh has become one of the most acute emergencies for WFP. The camp at Cox’s Bazar is the largest in the world, and over 80% of refugees there rely on WFP to survive.
They are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Now, with the first case of COVID-19 now confirmed in the camp, WFP is doing everything it can to protect them.
The Evolution of the Rohingya Crisis
In May, Cyclone Amphan tore through Bangladesh and its already vulnerable Rohingya refugee camps. 10 million people were affected across the country, and half a million families lost their homes - straining an already stretched government. The cyclone lashed coastal areas with brutal winds and rain, leaving at least 84 people dead in Bangladesh and India.Photo: WFP/Gemma Snowdon
As of April 22nd, there were nearly 3,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bangladesh. The camps at Cox's Bazar are among the largest and most overcrowded in the world: families are crowded together and there is nearly no health care. WFP has rolled out prevention measures at its food distribution points to curb the spread.Photo: WFP/Gemma Snowdon
This year's monsoon season strikes, bringing 28 inches of rain in just 10 days. The deluge causes flooding and landslides and wipes away many of the Rohingya's makeshift shelters. WFP works tirelessly throughout the year to prepare the camp, but still, with such shaky infrastructure, staff must relocate families, provide emergency food and repair the damage.Photo: WFP/Gemma Snowdon
More than a year after the crisis began, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are still unable to return to their homes in Myanmar. Hundreds more arrive every week.Photo: WFP Middle East Twitter
Monsoon season begins, bringing torrential rain and the constant threat of landslides and flooding.Photo: WFP
Preparations to fortify the camp begin in anticipation of the annual monsoon season, which threatens the camp's fragile infrastructure.Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
WFP launches its e-card program, giving Rohingya refugees the ability to buy fresh produce, protein, and grains.
The Kutupalong camp in Cox's Bazar becomes the largest refugee camp in the world, host to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees.Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees get stuck in no man's land at the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The exodus of the Rohingya begins as they flee violence in Western Myanmar.
More than 80% of the refugees in Cox’s Bazar rely on WFP for their basic needs.
- 911,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar
- 880,000 refugees rely on WFP every month
- 45,000 people relocated to safer, newly developed camp sites
meeting the challenge
WFP uses smart, innovative solutions to feed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. These innovations include e-cards, SCOPE registration, high-energy biscuits and drones.
An engineering project between WFP, IOM and UNHCR has helped build safer, new land for refugees living in precarious areas of the camp. Infrastructure is critical for those who are at heightened risk of landslides and flooding.
Blockchain technology helps WFP collect names, fingerprints and photos when registering refugees. The SCOPE process reduces loss and theft while allowing the humanitarian agency to better monitor and evaluate food distributions.
High energy biscuits are easy to distribute and improve nutrition among families without access to water or cooking supplies. They are fortified with 15 essential vitamins and contain 450 calories, offering a quick meal in emergencies.
Unmanned aerial vehicles like drones help WFP map humanitarian needs across the makeshift refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, even during cloudy weather. Their photos provide immediate, raw visuals and a data source for operational analysis.
Because of these efforts, the World Food Programme feeds more than 860,000 people inside Cox’s Bazar each month.
Fatema uses her e-card to feed her five children after escaping Myanmar without her husband.
12-year-old Rubina can focus on her studies knowing she will receive a school meal tomorrow.
High-energy biscuits give Abdul the nutrition he needs to stay healthy.
Around 80 percent of the refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar camp are women and children. The camp is plagued by poor water, unsanitary conditions, and limited access to health services and food. Here, Tracy Dube, a WFP nutritionist in the camp, describes the challenges that pregnant mothers, new moms and young children face in this pop-up city.
Help us realize a future beyond emergency assistance where our help is no longer needed.
Let’s build people’s knowledge, skills and resilience. Let’s invest in economic opportunities and sustainable food systems so that all Rohingya families can get the nutrition they need to reach their full potential.