For decades, Bangladesh has generously received asylum seekers from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. At the end of August 2017, a fresh wave of conflict in Rakhine displaced over 600,000 Rohingya to Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts of Bangladesh, bringing the total Rohingya population in Bangladesh to almost 900,000. The speed and scale of the influx overwhelmed existing response capacity, and DRC has deployed its emergency team as part of an interagency response to the crisis. A huge number of people have settled in a very small and underdeveloped area of Bangladesh, a country whose resources and land are already stretched - it is the 12th most densely populated nation in the world, with only city or island states being denser, and has a population of 163,000,000.
DRC initially focused on establishing the conditions for an effective response, including recruitment, procurement, and engagement with people of concern, Bangladeshi authorities, IOM and UNHCR, and other NGOs. Humanitarian activities started in December 2017 in the Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion area (the so-called “megacamp”), where almost 600,000 people are residing in an unplanned informal settlement, on inhospitable terrain and with limited personal effects. DRC is providing support to site management services (led by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission of the Government of Bangladesh), protection through identification of and support to vulnerable individuals including children and improving the living conditions of the camp and standards of shelter. In 2018, DRC also plans to work outside the main site, to reach vulnerable Rohingya and host community, address their basic needs and work towards ensuring resilience and sustainable livelihoods for the Bangladeshi population whose livelihoods have been impacted by the influx.