A. SITUATION ANALYSIS
Description of the disaster
Since August 25, 2017, extreme violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar has pushed more than 727,000 people from Rakhine State to cross the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Communities have already crossed the border and Bangladesh has welcomed residents of Rakhine since the 1970s. However, the influx in August 2017 was the largest and fastest in its history. The situation of statelessness imposed over the generations has made this population seriously vulnerable, even before the serious trauma of this latest displacement. The number of Rakhine people inside Bangladesh remains fluid as there is always a flow of population from Myanmar and other countries in the region.
More than 919,000 displaced people still live in makeshift camps and other sites. The largest camp (Mega Camp) is the Kutupalong extension site in Ukhia, hosting over 610,000 refugees. The situation is also a protection crisis as the protection needs of the displaced community are very high due to the extreme and systematic violence suffered. About 55 percent of the displaced people in Rakhine State are under the age of 18. More than 30 percent of households are classified as vulnerable due to the presence of disabilities, single parents, separated children or the elderly. Women and girls represent 52% of the population. The Rakhine community continues to rely heavily on aid to meet their basic needs. Growing tension between the guest and the host community has been reported.
The surrounding host communities have also been strongly affected by the scale and duration of the crisis. The total population of Rakhine quadrupled within two months after the August influx (August to October 2017) which severely affected the region’s infrastructure and public services. At least 15,000 people from displaced communities live with host communities, the majority in Sadar and Ramu in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf. Given the challenges facing the host communities, their needs, but also given the protracted nature of the crisis, this operation also aims to provide assistance and support to the population living in the areas surrounding the camps.
The situation remains serious as the displaced population faces additional threats. They live in congested sites that impact all aspects of life and are ill-equipped to handle monsoon rains and hurricane seasons – with extremely limited escape options. Many displaced people also expressed concern about their future, explaining that even if they wished to return, they would not agree to do so as long as issues of citizenship, legal rights and access to services, to justice and restitution would not be resolved.
In November 2018, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar announced that the repatriation process would begin on November 15, 2018. As of April 2019, no repatriation to Myanmar took place due to conditions that were not conducive to the camp population (Source: JRP 2019). return and no concrete evidence that members of the displaced community are ready to return.
UNHCR has repeatedly stated that conditions in Myanmar are not conducive to returns and that it will not be able to facilitate the process at this time. However, the proposed repatriation process caused unease and distress in the camps. In addition, in November 2018, there were several strikes with demonstrations in the camp of community members rejecting repatriation attempts and presenting the following demands: (1) to guarantee durable solutions to end the situation refugees; (2) ensure quality education with a standard curriculum; (3) do not modify any registration document; (4) ensure appropriate treatment; (5) ensure adequate protection.
Given the uncertainty about the evolution of the situation, four different scenarios were taken into account in the update of the operational strategy:
Relocation of part of the affected population to an island – at least 100,000 people could be relocated.
Repatriation to Myanmar – less likely despite political statements.
Pursuit of mega camps – this is the current situation and highly likely.
Relocations to other countries – if this happens, only a small number of people could be affected.