Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI
Asia

Bangladesh

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FRAGILITY RANKING

36th out of 178 countries


Overview

By most indicators, Bangladesh is on track to overcome aspects of its own fragility. However, the country’s path towards sustainable development is not without its challenges – including frequent natural disasters, gender inequality, and a mass influx of refugees. Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed across the border into Cox’s Bazar after fleeing persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The sheer scale of the Rohingya refugee crisis threatens to reverse the country’s development gains, plunging nearly one million Rohingya and the surrounding Bangladeshi communities into extreme poverty.

As a low-lying country along the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is at the forefront of the climate crisis and is routinely ravaged by heavy monsoon rains, landslides, and tropical cyclones. Despite nature’s attempts to derail the country’s progress, Bangladesh has made major strides towards development and poverty reduction since the country became independent in 1975.

But pockets of fragility exist throughout the country. Nearly one million Rohingya refugees are living in dire conditions in and around Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp.

Overcrowding in the densely populated camp puts residents at great susceptibility for outbreaks of disease, crime, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. These settlements, which are clustered along Bangladesh’s coastline, are also prone to natural disasters, especially during Bangladesh’s monsoon season.

Despite the considerable number of international aid organizations and local nonprofits responding to the crisis, the needs of both the Rohingya refugees and their Bangladeshi host communities remain overwhelming.

Relief International first began operating in Bangladesh in 2004. Our programs tackled widespread poverty at a time when Bangladesh’s economic growth had fallen to historic lows. Our teams invested in new markets in traditional fishing villages along the fringes of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, which was recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. By coupling conservation values with tourism initiatives, we partnered with local communities to establish a thriving ecotourism business, stimulating unprecedented economic growth in the area.

Our work also focused on promoting environmental conservation and preventing trafficking in persons.

In the wake of the Rohingya crisis, we’ve dramatically expanded our programs to meet refugees’ most urgent needs.

Our work in Cox’s Bazar includes:

  • Providing high-quality healthcare to Rohingya in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong refugee camp and to members of neighboring Bangladeshi host communities
  • Training Rohingya Community Health Workers to detect outbreaks of disease in their communities before these cases spread and reach our clinics
  • Establishing 23 safe spaces for women, girls, and young children to connect refugees to critical support services
  • Partnering with local leaders in coastal communities prone to natural disasters to establish risk reduction protocols
  • Training local emergency responders to deliver critical supplies of water, shelter, and hygiene kits in the event of landslides, monsoons, floods, and cyclones

“The sheer scale of the crisis is overwhelming. There are now nearly one million Rohingya refugees displaced to Bangladesh. The latest arrivals are living in the worst conditions I’ve ever witnessed during my two decades working as a humanitarian,” shares Nazrul Islam, Relief International’s Country Director for Bangladesh.

“When the crisis unfolded, refugees — mostly women and children — arrived traumatized, and some have arrived with severe physical injuries. The harsh reality is that the response to this crisis needs to be much more robust in addressing the longer-term needs of the Rohingya, particularly those related to mental health. It may take years before they can return safely to their villages in Myanmar, if ever.”


Our 2018 Impact in Bangladesh
79K
people trained or educated on disease prevention to help contain major outbreaks of disease
25K
health consultations conducted last year
23
safe spaces established for Rohingya women, girls, and young children throughout the camp

Stories From Bangladesh

Learn more about our work in Bangladesh from our staff and program participants.

Bangladesh

Two Years Later: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis Continues

Relief International’s programs continue to support the diverse needs of hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

READ MORE

Bangladesh

Rohingya Crisis: “I’ve never shared my story before.”

Inside Relief International’s Women & Girl Friendly Spaces in Kutupalong refugee camp, roughly 100 women gather each day to escape the realities of life inside the camp.

 

 

READ MORE

Bangladesh

Life among the Mangroves: Eco-Tourism in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Forest

Bangladeshi communities have long relied on the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest for their lives and livelihoods, exposing these critical resources to overexploitation. In recent years, Relief International has partnered with local communities to launch eco-friendly businesses that provide jobs while protecting this natural site.

READ MORE
Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI

Bangladesh

Two Years Later: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis Continues

Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI

Bangladesh

Rohingya Crisis: “I’ve never shared my story before.”

RI Staff/RI

Bangladesh

Life among the Mangroves: Eco-Tourism in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Forest

Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI
Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI
RI Staff/RI
Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI

Two Years Later: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis Continues

Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI

Rohingya Crisis: “I’ve never shared my story before.”

RI Staff/RI

Life among the Mangroves: Eco-Tourism in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Forest

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Featured Project

Combating Human Trafficking in Bangladesh

The United Nations reports that there has been a steady increase in the number of global trafficking cases since 2010. From 2015 to 2018, Relief International implemented an anti-human trafficking program in ten high-risk neighborhoods in Bangladesh.

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Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI