Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh three years after their exodus

Bangladesh

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are living in Bangladesh after fleeing targeted violence in Myanmar.

Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh has hosted Rohingya refugees fleeing targeted violence in neighbouring Myanmar's Rakhine state since 1978. The latest violence, which began in August 2017, has provoked an unprecedented exodus, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to live in camps with deteriorating conditions. Around 860,000 Rohingya refugees live over a surface of 26 square kilometres.

At present, we are providing medical care in two districts: Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar, while working to maintain our regular medical response. The current intervention in Cox’s Bazar started in 2009, when Kutupalong field hospital was established to serve both refugees and the local community.

In August 2017, we scaled up activities and now run nine health facilities across Cox’s Bazar district, including three hospitals, three primary health centres and two specialised clinics. 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are responding to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.

Why are we here?

Our activities in 2020 in Bangladesh

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.

MSF in Bangladesh in 2020 Ensuring the continuity of healthcare amid the COVID-19 pandemic was crucial in Bangladesh. MSF adapted services to respond to the virus, while maintaining other lifesaving activities.
Map of MSF activities in 2020 in Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees and vulnerable communities in urban slums remain the focus of our projects in the country. 

Cox’s Bazar
In 2020, MSF ran 12 facilities in Cox’s Bazar district, offering healthcare to both Rohingya and host communities. In three of these facilities, we set up dedicated isolation and treatment centres for severe acute respiratory tract infections. In six others, we adapted areas to treat potential COVID-19 patients. Movement restrictions and other measures imposed by the authorities because of the pandemic reduced the presence of humanitarian workers and disrupted access to healthcare for Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities.

The movement restrictions also led to increased challenges for the community, humanitarian organisations and the authorities. MSF observed a sustained drop of around 50 per cent in outpatient consultations and a similar decrease in the number of refugees arriving with acute respiratory tract problems. This indicated that patients with COVID-19-related symptoms were not comfortable seeking care. 

The restrictions, the need for staffing of COVID-19 related activities, as well as the protection of staff members from infection, forced us to scale down routine vaccinations and community surveillance, and completely suspend other activities, such as regular outreach, community engagement and hygiene promotion, as only Rohingya volunteers were allowed to raise awareness of health issues inside the camps. 

We supported public efforts to reduce transmission risks and our teams distributed nearly 300,000 face masks in Ukhiya.  

Kamrangirchar
MSF runs two urban clinics in Kamrangirchar district in the capital, Dhaka, where we provide reproductive healthcare, medical and psychological treatment for sexual and gender-based violence. We also provide occupational health services, which include treatment for workers diagnosed with occupational diseases, as well as preventive care and risk assessment in factories. 

Our medical assistance is tailored to the needs of people working in extremely hazardous conditions. In 2020, our teams conducted almost 5,000 consultations for factory workers. Additionally, our mobile clinics brought healthcare – including tetanus vaccinations ─ to tannery workers in Savar subdistrict.  

 

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