on the brink in
Image depicting on the brink in Bangladesh
Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
Rohingya refugees were already struggling to survive. COVID-19 could push them over the edge.
Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
Fleeing for Their Lives

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

May 2020

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

April 2020

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

July 2019

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

December 2018

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

May 2018

Monsoon season begins, bringing torrential rain and the constant threat of landslides and flooding.

Photo: WFP

February 2018

Preparations to fortify the camp begin in anticipation of the annual monsoon season, which threatens the camp's fragile infrastructure.

Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder

January 2018

WFP launches its e-card program, giving Rohingya refugees the ability to buy fresh produce, protein, and grains.

December 2017

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

October 2017

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees get stuck in no man's land at the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

August 2017

The exodus of the Rohingya begins as they flee violence in Western Myanmar.

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.

Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder

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.

Photo: WFP/Alessandro Pavone

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.

Square photograph of Fatema Detailed photograph of Fatema


Fatema uses her e-card to feed her five children after escaping Myanmar without her husband.

Detailed photograph of Rubina


12-year-old Rubina can focus on her studies knowing she will receive a school meal tomorrow.

Detailed photograph of Abdul


High-energy biscuits give Abdul the nutrition he needs to stay healthy.

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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.

There is more to be done. As of June 2020:
80% of refugees are entirely dependent on WFP for food
more than 1,000 new refugees arrive every month.
WFP needs your support to continue its lifesaving work.
Take action today.

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.