August 25 marks three years since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women, boys and girls sought safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after they were forcibly displaced from Rakhine, Myanmar, due to violence and fear of persecution.
Since then, the Rohingya refugees have been at the centre of the response, working with host communities, government officials, donors, and humanitarian and development partners to ensure their protection and the well-being of host communities, until sustainable solutions for safe, dignified, and voluntary return and reintegration in Myanmar can be achieved.
The Rohingya refugees have demonstrated their fortitude and capacity to cope by participating in camp activities such as consultations, infrastructure works, disaster preparedness and response, and discussions that engage and solicit feedback from specific groups or persons with specific needs – religious leaders, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to name a few. Their participation anchors the humanitarian response’s accountability to the crisis-affected populations.
The Government of Bangladesh leads the humanitarian response, enabling a diverse range of humanitarian and development partners to strengthen protection and solutions for the Rohingya refugees that deliver food, water and sanitation, health and other forms of multi-sectoral assistance.
Fostering safe and healthy camp conditions and delivering quality, life-saving multi-sectoral assistance to refugee and host community populations in need require continued collaboration by various stakeholders, human and material resources, and funding from the international community.
Yet, daunting challenges persist. There has been a lack of progress in Myanmar for the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees. The stymied quality of life and aid-dependency in the camp settlements present daily barriers that the refugees must overcome to survive.
The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 is also impacting the delivery of humanitarian services, which have been modified to encourage physical distance and other hygienic practices.
Throughout the last three years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other stakeholders have reflected on lessons learned and improved humanitarian operations to better meet the life-saving needs of the Rohingya and the host community populations in the district.