“We women, we give birth to life. Let us live ours in peace.”
The Rohingya refugee population is among the most vulnerable in the world. And, in the densely populated settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh where over 900,000 Rohingya reside, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
Many victims already cope with emotional trauma from the violence they faced prior to arriving at the settlements. Many also fear coming forward, in part due to the social stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence.
In an effort to counteract that stigma, BRAC is taking a community-based approach to combating sexual and gender-based violence in Rohingya settlements.
Recently, we partnered with the United Nations and other local humanitarian organizations to advocate against gender-based violence. In our “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, Rohingya women, men, boys, and girls from across Cox’s Bazar came together to raise awareness of and call for an end to violence against women and girls. BRAC also engaged nearly 20,000 men and boys in sexual and gender-based violence trainings in order to raise awareness and stop the cycle.
In addition, we now operate eight women-friendly spaces and eight community centers in Cox’s Bazar. These centers provide a wide range of services, including psychosocial counseling; legal support; community education on topics like health, hygiene, and women’s rights; and training in skills such as literacy, tailoring, and handicrafts. Over 1,100 women have accessed psychosocial support in the spaces.
The women-friendly spaces, known as shanti khana or “places of peace,” also help establish a sense of community. They are a place to learn and heal.
“I come here to talk to the other women, and spend time with the young girls,” said Layla,* a 21-year-old Rohingya woman. Nearly 500 women like Layla attend the shanti khana daily.
Your donations ensure that our 2,600+ staff in Cox’s Bazar can continue to provide these critical services. Thank you for your support of women and girls.
Imagine your favorite teacher growing up. Did you feel valued in their class? Were they attentive to your needs? Did they make learning fun?
Unfortunately, many Rohingya children have never experienced a supportive, engaging learning environment like the one many of us had. In the crowded refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, less than one third of the more than 500,000 children are in school.
But that is changing in BRAC’s more than 500 Learning Centers and Child-Friendly Spaces.
For many Rohingya children, this is their first chance to be in a learning environment where teachers are attentive to their needs. For some, it is also their first opportunity to access education at all.
Now, after opening the first two-story Learning Center in Kutupalong camp, Cox’s Bazar last month, 240 more children will join the nearly 70,000 BRAC is already serving.
Standing 39 feet-high and constructed of bamboo and other sustainable, locally-sourced materials, the new Learning Center is a feat of architecture. Thoughtfully designed by architects from BRAC University, the building incorporates Rohingya architectural traditions and sits two feet above the ground to avoid flooding during the extreme weather patterns the region is prone to.
Similar to BRAC Learning Centers in other regions, the new two-story structure will offer basic primary education for children aged 4-14, with an emphasis on learning through structured, play-based activities. The curriculum focuses on basic math, science, and literacy in Burmese and English, as well as life skills, physical play, rhymes, and stories.
Each session in a BRAC Learning Center is jointly led by women from the Rohingya community and women from the Bangladeshi host community, who speak a dialect of Bengali similar to the Rohingya language. This model trains and empowers Rohingya women and promotes person-to-person peacebuilding between the communities, which is critical in addressing tensions that are arising over strained resources.
Learning Centers also provide holistic support for Rohingya children, incorporating child protection measures, linkages to health and nutrition services, and parenting sessions to engage families in their children’s educations. They offer comprehensive psychosocial support for children and families through group sessions and individual home visits conducted by over 230 barefoot counselors and 40 para-counselors.
Thanks to your generous support, tens of thousands of little learners in Cox’s Bazar now access our comprehensive education and protection services.
But still, nearly 350,000 children in the settlements lack access to education. We want to do more. That is why we have set an ambitious goal to reach at least 100,000 learners by 2019.
Donate or spread the word to help us make sure no child is left behind.
Thank you for ensuring that every Rohingya child has the chance to build a better future.
Monsoon season has devastated the lives of Rohingya families living in settlements in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Weather related incidents have claimed one life already and affected over 35,800 people since May.
Our team is working on the ground to mobilize resources, relocate families, treat injuries and prevent further tragedy. Our efforts to repair, build, and secure shelters and other infrastructure are making Cox’s Bazar, and Rohingya families, safer.
Our teams are combining emergency response best-practices with innovative shelter designs to support families most at-risk.
Every day, BRAC front-line staff are relocating dozens of households, who face the highest risk of flooding, to safer areas with disaster-resistant shelters. To date, more than 10,000 people have been relocated to safer shelters.
We are continuing to design and build shelters that can withstand high rains and winds to replace homes perched precariously on ridges and hills in Cox's Bazar. Though rain has slowed our progress, we have repaired 855 shelters that were damaged during the storms and built or upgraded 564 shelters in the past month.
In the world’s largest refugee settlement, inadequate infrastructure can exacerbate the challenges that come with living in an informal settlement. We are working to scale up life-saving infrastructure: This month we placed 210,635 sandbags to protect landslide-prone areas, constructed nine miles of drainage pipes to prevent water-logging, and built 830 feet of bridge to improve accessibility.
None of these life-saving projects would be possible without your help. With every sandbag placed, shelter built, pipe laid, Rohingya families are better equipped for the monsoons and empowered to take life into their own hands. Thanks to your continued support Cox’s Bazar is a safer, stronger, more resilient place.
Monsoon season is underway in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where the world’s largest makeshift city is home to over one million forcibly displaced Rohingya people.
On May 1, over 100 shelters in the settlements were damaged in just a single hour of heavy rainfall. Large pools of stagnant water have already begun to form, and these wet conditions are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease.
Storms have battered many regions across Bangladesh for the past three weeks, and the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the University of Columbia predict that conditions in Cox’s Bazar will continue to worsen – as they already have in the rest of the country.
As a result, thousands of Rohingya families and members of the host community are increasingly vulnerable to flooding, landslides, and disease outbreak over the next three months.
BRAC is working around the clock to relocate families to safer areas, build and repair disaster-resilient shelters, stock up on supplies, and build its capacity to respond to the weather-related shocks that are predicted to accelerate in the upcoming months.
We have prepared a buffer stock of medicinal supplies to serve an initial 5,000 people if outbreaks of diarrheal disease, dysentery, typhoid, or water-borne diseases occur. Oral Rehydration Therapy corners have been set up in each of our primary health care centers, and three Mobile Medical Teams are preparing to deal with any type of medical emergency that may arise.
In addition to preparing for the monsoon season, BRAC also continues to scale up its existing relief efforts. With over 1,600 staff and hundreds more volunteers, BRAC is working to improve lives in all 14 camps and makeshift settlements in the region.
BRAC works with both Rohingya communities and local host communities through programs in primary, child, and maternal health care; education; protection and psychosocial support; water and sanitation; shelter; agriculture; and food and nutrition.
Since we began relief work last year, over 1.3 million patients have received consultations through 60 healthcare centers and satellite clinics, almost 95,000 children have been screened for malnutrition, and nearly 50,000 children are registered in child friendly spaces.
Thanks to your generous contributions, we will continue to scale up our relief efforts and prepare for further shocks as monsoon season approaches. We are grateful for your continued support.
Over 688,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25, when violence accelerated in Myanmar, bringing the total population of Rohingya in Bangladesh to around one million.
The largest concentration of Rohingya people is in the makeshift settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and these people require ongoing humanitarian services to address their basic needs.
Many challenges persist in the camps. The overcrowded, makeshift settlements are vulnerable to disease, fire, landslides, and cyclones. Outbreaks of illnesses like cholera, diphtheria, and diarrheal disease have already claimed lives. Clean water shortages, a lack of proper sanitation facilities, and malnutrition compound these health issues.
Additionally, children urgently need learning opportunities and safeguards for their protection. Women and adolescent girls remain at risk of sexual and gender-based violence in the crowded, fluid context of the camps.
BRAC has one of the largest responses of any organization, and has already reached nearly 600,000 new arrivals in Cox’s Bazar. We are implementing a wide variety of programs to ensure that the critical needs of the population are met and their dignity is protected.
Key achievements to date include:
However, amid this progress, new challenges have arisen.
Within the host and Rohingya communities, there is a desire for self-reliance and community-level interventions. These include attention to governance systems within the camps, as well as efforts to reduce tension between the Rohingya and the host community through positive trade or market interactions and social relationships.
With the crisis now entering its sixth month, the dynamics of the situation have shifted. In addition to responding to the immediate needs of the host community, BRAC is orienting its efforts towards finding long term solutions for the Rohingya and host communities.
Much more work is needed to create a safe, livable environment within the camps and in the surrounding areas, and the crisis will not soon end. Please share our work with others so that we can continue to scale up our response efforts.
For the latest situation report on our work in Cox’s Bazar, please refer to the attached document. Thank you for your continued support.
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