Aid for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Nearly one million members of the Rohingya community have fled from violence and repression in Myanmar to seek sanctuary in neighbouring Bangladesh. Their situation is precarious. Caritas Switzerland is providing emergency aid for 50 000 refugees.


For decades, the daily life of the Rohingya in Myanmar has been marked by oppression, exclusion and violence. The last violent attack by the military in late August 2017 resulted in a mass exodus to Bangladesh. Nearly a million Rohingya, including many women and children, have sought protection in the border region around Cox's Bazar in the district of Chittagong in south-eastern Bangladesh. They are severely traumatized by the violence in Myanmar and have lost everything.

But in Bangladesh, too, their situation is very difficult. Refugees are subject to strict conditions, are not allowed to move freely or do work. Most of them live in tents in the most cramped conditions. Hygiene conditions are wretched. There is almost no running water or drinking water, and very few sanitary facilities. Human traffickers are exploiting the situation.  ‘Girls and women especially are exposed to great risks’, says Amrita Rozario, an employee of Caritas Switzerland in Bangladesh. ‘The needs are immense.’ 


Caritas Switzerland support

Caritas Switzerland has been helping in Camp Kutupalong since 2017, which with 626 000 inhabitants on just 16 km2 is the largest refugee camp in the world. In cooperation with Caritas Bangladesh and with the support of Swiss Solidarity, we are currently investing in the camp infrastructure. It is intended to build 405 new intermediate-term huts with a lifespan of some three years. In addition, 360 existing temporary huts will be enlarged and upgraded into reinforced huts, which are also storm-resistant. The Rohingya learn to build or repair the huts themselves. As part of employment programmes, 16 kilometres of roads and footpaths are being built to provide the refugees with the necessary freedom of movement. This has created jobs for 800 people for 60 days each. Finally, through the project 425 families are being forwarded to other organizations that can provide them with additional aid such as psychosocial support.

In previous projects, to provide significant long-term improvements to the sanitary and hygiene situation, we repaired, with the help of local craftsmen, 115 groundwater wells, 275 latrines and 180 wash houses, and trained the camp residents in their maintenance. Drains and footpaths were improved, and the terrain consolidated. In addition, Caritas distributed cooking gas to enable families to prepare meals without being forced to undergo tedious searches in the completely tree-stripped area for the anyway unsustainable firewood.

The various measures have so far benefited over 50 000 refugees.


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