On August 25th, 2017, violence erupted between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Myanmar Army in Rakhine State, a northern region of Myanmar often prone to violence. Several hundreds of thousands of people from the Muslim Rohingya minority have been forced to flee their country to take refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The urgency with which refugees had to flee in the face of abuses by the army and the breadth of their displacement has exacerbated the vulnerability of thousands of children, women, and men who now have little to no access to basic necessities and services.
Between August and October 2017, over 600,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar, arriving in Bangladesh after a long and dangerous journey. The number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has now reached 816,000. In addition to being physically and emotionally traumatized, many people have been separated from their loved ones, often without even knowing where they are.
This massive influx of refugees has brought about a major humanitarian crisis. Nearly all of those who took part in this exodus left their villages with literally nothing and are living in terrible conditions, confronting an urgent need for food in overcrowded makeshift camps. Access to water, hygiene, and sanitation is also a priority. In addition, some 15,000 people are still waiting at the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, is a South Asian nation that is nearly completed bordered by India, except for a small border with Myanmar in the extreme South. Characterized by great inequalities within its own population, Bangladesh has also seen its economic growth slowed by many recurring natural disasters. In fact, the country is regularly struck by cyclones, and each year, more than half of its territory is submerged by waters that destroy crops in the countryside, engulf homes, and kill livestock.
It is estimated that about 300,000 Bangladeshis are living in the area around the border with Myanmar and are directly affected by the current crisis.