A Glimpse at Camp Life in Cox’s Bazar: Examining Aid Response and Distilling Solutions

By USCRI April 13, 2023

Seizing the attention and sympathy of the international community in 2017, Rohingya refugees, forced by genocidal military operations to leave their homeland, are one of the world’s largest stateless populations. About one million Rohingya refugees now live in a number of camps in in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, where their living conditions are in flux and their futures are uncertain. To better understand the daily lives of the Rohingya and the humanitarian aid response, USCRI Policy Analyst Aaron Nodjomian-Escajeda conducted a field visit to Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh in December 2022, where he met with domestic and international NGOs who are dedicated to serving Rohingya refugees. While in Bangladesh, USCRI visited multiple Rohingya refugee camps with Friendship NGO, which allowed USCRI to examine the inner working of learning and health centers, to observe camp life in Cox’s Bazar, and to speak directly with Rohingya refugees about their experiences in the camps.

This report examines camp conditions, infrastructure improvements, and aid accomplishments witnessed by USCRI. It also provides a brief overview of the Rohingya crisis and the current refugee situation in Bangladesh. It considers the ongoing challenges of providing adequate healthcare, mitigating human trafficking risks, and ensuring access to education. Insight into the host community’s perspective is also dispersed throughout the report. Finally, USCRI analyzes funding and U.S. resettlement issues. USCRI also offers recommendations at the end of each chapter to address the existing needs of Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh that the international community, the Bangladeshi government, local NGOs, and the U.S. government can implement.

Portions of this report were modified and previously published as policy briefs: Learning for What Future? and Vying for Work: Risk Factors, Push Factors, and Human Trafficking. Other advocacy installments included an event entitled Reduction of Risk in Action: A Discussion of Efforts in Bangladesh to Mitigate Labor Trafficking Among Refugees, Stateless Populations, and Children for Human Trafficking Prevention Month, during which Mr. Jishu Barua from Youth Power in Social Action (YPSA) discussed issues related to the increased risk of exploitation and labor trafficking for Rohingya refugees, and Mr. Md. Tanvir Sharif from the Alliance for Cooperation and Legal Aid Bangladesh (ACLAB) discussed the dangers of child labor in the dried fish industry in Bangladesh.

Click here to read the report.

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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