Since 25 August 2017, more than 745,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh.
Their arrival comes on top of hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya who arrived in previous years and were already living in difficult conditions. Combined with the existing Rohingya refugee population, approximately 919,000 refugees are now in Bangladesh.
In the first six months of the mass exodus in August 2017, we treated more than 350,000 patients, including victims of rape, people with gunshot wounds and severe acute malnutrition.
People are continuing to cross over into Bangladesh from Myanmar. Those arriving tell MSF teams that incidents of violence, harassment and detention continue, as do household checks and coerced registration for the National Verification Card.
The current context of overcrowding and poor sanitation in these makeshift refugee camps means the risk of people getting sick is very high.
The Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh is regularly hit by extreme wind and rain from June to September, making the camp extremely vulnerable.
In 2018, and now in 2019, intense rains have caused havoc in the camps and for local communities. The rains have resulted in landslides, floods, and fires, which have led to injuries, deaths and destruction of homes and buildings.
Emergency preparedness is a key priority but continues to be hampered by the lack of useable land.
The only cyclone-proof building in the mega camp is MSF’s Hospital on the Hill.
The overnight creation of the world’s largest refugee camp
The unprecedented influx of people crossing over the border into Bangladesh in 2017 created absolute chaos.
Over half a million new arrivals set up informal shelters in the Kutupalong/Balukhali mega camp; another quarter of a million set up spontaneous settlements and other pre-existing camps; and 46,000 live within the local Bangladeshi community.
Thousands of people continue to be relocated due to unsustainable and dangerous conditions.
The absence of roads into the huge densely populated camps means that aid is still not reaching many and the living conditions in the settlements remain extremely precarious and hazardous.
Life on the Edge
With extremely densely populated camps and poor water, hygiene and sanitation conditions, the situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh remains precarious.
Living conditions for the refugees have not improved very much since their arrival almost one year ago and need to be addressed urgently, with a particular focus on improvements to shelter, water and sanitation, and reducing population density.