Rohingya refugee, Abul Kalam holds his 17-month-old baby, Arafat and stands next to his wife Rahima in Kutupalong settlement. © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

Five Years On: Rohingya refugees need more support

Australia for UNHCR is appealing for renewed support for Rohingya refugees, five years after hundreds of thousands of people from the ethnic minority fled Myanmar.

25 August 2022

Australia for UNHCR is appealing for renewed support for Rohingya refugees, five years after hundreds of thousands of people from the ethnic minority fled Myanmar.

More than 700,000 Rohingyas escaped violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State into neighbouring Bangladesh around August 25th, 2017, with many sheltering in what is now the world’s largest refugee camp, in Cox’s Bazar.

“Five years on, these refugees, along with a new generation of Rohingyas born in Cox’s Bazar, continue to struggle in temporary shelters in a highly congested camp setting. They rely on humanitarian assistance for protection, food, water, shelter and health,” Australia for UNHCR CEO Trudi Mitchell said.

“As the years have gone by many people have forgotten about the plight of the Rohingya which means funding has declined. And yet as time goes on, the needs of these people have become even greater.”

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar, making them the world’s largest stateless population. Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar in successive waves of displacement since the 1990s, with the largest exodus in August 2017.

With decreased funding, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh face challenges in accessing proper nutrition, shelter materials, sanitation facilities and livelihood opportunities. Some have resorted to dangerous boat journeys to seek a better future.

The UN Refugee Agency has been working with partners in support of the Bangladeshi government to respond to the growing humanitarian needs and the protection of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

But UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said more needs to be done, with the support of the international community, to secure both financial support and solutions for Rohingyas. 

“Support must be stepped up for education, skills development, and livelihood opportunities. These activities will prepare refugees for eventual return while also helping them remain safe and productive during their stay in Bangladesh,” Ms Mantoo said.

“Together, the international community must do more to ensure that the Rohingya do not continue to languish in displacement and redouble efforts for increased political dialogue and diplomatic engagement to create conditions for voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return.”

The UN Refugee Agency has been working with partners and the Bangladeshi government to deliver critical aid, such as shelter, water and sanitation facilities, education and healthcare, and programs to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, for Rohingyas.

To learn more about the Rohingya crisis and how you can help, visit: https://www.unrefugees.org/emergencies/rohingya/

Media contact

Alex Fisher: [email protected] 0498 998 018