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Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network
Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund
Courtesy of JAAGO's Safe Haven project report
Courtesy of JAAGO's Safe Haven project report

The COVID-19 crisis has presented monumental challenges to communities across the world. For some of us, these challenges include working from home while juggling child care, caring for sick relatives, and coping with social isolation. 

For others, like Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh, surviving a pandemic presents even greater challenges.  Since social distancing is nearly impossible, respiratory illness is common, and day-wages are most individuals’ only source of income, overcoming the pandemic will require an enormous show of solidarity from the international community. Hundreds of individuals have been stranded in boats at sea for two months, as Malaysia and Bangladesh closed their ports to the migrants seeking to escape the difficult conditions. 

Populations already hard-hit by recent natural disasters or in the midst of ongoing humanitarian crises are disproportionately impacted by the virus. That’s why GlobalGiving launched a round of emergency grants from your generous donations to the Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund. These flexible grants reinforced local nonprofits’ ability to act quickly in delivering personal protective equipment (PPE), essential medical supplies, and food to the most vulnerable. 

Here’s a snapshot of how your contribution is keeping refugees safe while far from home:

Mending the gap in food aid

  • OBAT Helpers: As the local economy remains shut down, the daily wages Rohingya refugees earn through jobs outside of the camp have dried up. Since workers can no longer depend on these low earnings to feed their families, organizations like OBAT Helpers have delivered food packages to over 1,600 families in an effort to mend the gap. 

Spreading hope through tiny miracles

  • HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh: HOPE Foundation’s expertly-trained midwives are working around the clock to ensure the health of mothers and newborn babies in Cox’s Bazar, while also distributing PPE and masks to the wider community. Previous grants to this organization have contributed to the construction of a field hospital, which is now being activated to effectively treat residents who test positive for the coronavirus.

Sharing life-saving information

  • Internews: Access to accurate, timely, and life-saving information is half of the battle in the fight against COVID-19. Faced with unreliable internet and cell service availability, Rohingya refugees are often at a disadvantage when it comes to staying informed. With the emergency grant, Internews is strengthening its efforts to deliver current news in the local language to thousands of refugees, through both radio and educational entertainment programs. 

These rapid-response grants reflect just one component of GlobalGiving’s overall response to COVID-19. Our community of donors has supported local relief efforts in more than 30 countries through our Coronavirus Relief Fund, and we have also activated a Hardship Microgrants Program to help nonprofits across the world keep the lights on during a time of great uncertainty. 

We are keeping you and the entire community of GlobalGivers in our thoughts these days, as you stay safe and keep the hope alive with your generosity. As always, thank you for contributing to a local, human-centered response to the Rohingya displacement crisis. 

In solidarity,

Andrea + the GlobalGiving Team 

HOPE Foundation's Midwifery training program
HOPE Foundation's Midwifery training program
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Photo courtesy of OBAT Helpers
Photo courtesy of OBAT Helpers

In times of uncertainty, local nonprofit organizations are on the frontlines of addressing the needs of their communities. As the COVID-19 pandemic fills the headlines, we take a moment to acknowledge the critical work that grassroots organizations are doing to protect those most at-risk during a crisis situation. 

In particular, GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners operating in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh are working hard to build resilience in the Rohingya refugee community as they have been doing for the past two years. From innovative preventative healthcare measures in tackling cholera, to the construction of permanent structures as safe spaces for children’s education, your support of the Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund has been reducing vulnerabilities for the long-term. 

Constructive Solutions To Education Challenges 

Accessing basic education curriculum continues to be an ongoing struggle for refugees fleeing the violence and instability in their home country of Myanmar. As a result, aid organizations have had to get creative in their efforts to bring learning opportunities to thousands of youth. Nonprofit partner JAAGO Foundation has done just that by building newclassrooms and a library—all powered by solar panels—to create a healthy environment for students to learn. 

Strengthening Community Health Networks

Unsanitary camp conditions in the Cox’s Bazar and Kutupalong settlements oftentimes cause residents to suffer from persistent colds and infections. In order to build the community’s immunity and reduce the risk of transmission, organizations such as OBAT Helpers have been instrumental in building trust between community members and doctors in order to provide vaccinations, address symptoms, and deliver treatment. At the Rohingya Health Clinic, over 300 patients a day are met by dedicated teams of staff of both Rohingya and other medical volunteers.

Sharing Critical Information With Added Fact-checking

In times of crisis, sharing information with those who need it is only half the battle. The other half is the important step of fact-checking—which separates life-saving information from rumors or messages that might sow panic or mistrust. Nonprofit organization Internews is working hard to address this issue on both fronts. Through constant feedback loops, the organization identifies the most important information needs in the community and distributes it through radio, social media, and in-person announcements, while keeping a close eye on the spread of misinformation. This helps ensure communities receive the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.

Thank you again for your ongoing support of this fund and the communities facing high risk during global health crises. We will continue to share regular updates on how your contribution is making a difference in this ongoing displacement crisis by supporting local, community-led initiatives. 

With gratitude,

Andrea

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Photo from BRAC USA
Photo from BRAC USA

As we enter a new decade, we are reflecting on all the ways that donors like you chose to act with empathy, kindness, and solidarity in support of people affected by humanitarian crises. Through your donations to the Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund, local nonprofit organizations received the resources required to address the long-term needs of roughly 900,000 refugees driven from their homes by violence and conflict. 

While it remains uncertain how long this displacement crisis will last, the GlobalGiving community is continuing to respond to the new set of challenges through a recent round of grants in support of relief efforts:

Empowering Medical Response from Within the Community

The goal of OBAT Helpers Inc is to improve the health outcomes of Rohingya refugees by harnessing the capacity that lies within the Rohingya community itself. OBAT Helpers is achieving this by developing a network of Community Health Workers comprised of Rohingya volunteers, empowering the very community the health organization works to benefit. 

The health workers make regular “home visits” within the camps and work to raise awareness of the clinic’s available services within the Rohingya community. Thanks to your generous support, the health workers distribute medical supplies based on the needs they observe during visits. 

The Right to Education 

Losing everything after being forced to flee from Myanmar is difficult enough, but especially heartbreaking is the erosion of educational opportunities available to displaced Rohingya children living in the Bangladeshi camps. Tensions over which country’s curriculum to permit has limited access to formalized education, a critical necessity to avoid a “lost generation.”

JAAGO Foundation, a local nonprofit partner based in Bangladesh, aims to provide the very best in holistic care and protection for children ages 4-15 through its Safe Haven Project. Through the creation of three different learning zones within the camps, JAAGO builds an environment of social and emotional development for students, complete with experts in trauma therapy. 

Progress in the Fight Against Gender-based Violence

BRAC USA is coordinating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in launching a new initiative against gender-based violence.

Over 100 men are stepping into the role of fighting sexual and gender-based violence, speaking weekly about a variety of topics including positive masculinity, child marriage, and polygamy. Utilizing this community-based model, community members are given the skills and knowledge they need to become role models equipped to confront abuse and offer pathways of support to victims. 

In 2020, enabled by your generous support of this fund, GlobalGiving is working to establish new partnerships with Rohingya-led organizations and host community leaders to ensure the well-being of both young and old affected by this conflict. Inspired by a fresh start, we join together in hoping for a resolution to this ongoing crisis. 

Photo from Jaago Foundation
Photo from Jaago Foundation
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Photo by OBAT Helpers
Photo by OBAT Helpers

August 25th marked the second anniversary of the Myanmar military’s brutal crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority population and the ensuing mass exodus of the Rohingya into Bangladesh. With negotiations over the resettlement of Rohingya refugees between Bangladesh and Myanmar stalled, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees remain caught in limbo, unable to return to their homeland. 

The monsoon season in Bangladesh officially started on June 17. A strong start to this annual weather phenomenon has created new challenges for displaced Rohingya living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Fortunately, with support from the international community, the efforts of monsoon preparedness campaigns are helping to mitigate some of the damage incurred by the temporary camps this season. 

 

The Sunshine After the Rain 

Despite the difficulties that this year’s torrential rains have added to a fragile housing situation, GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partners are providing unfaltering assistance to refugees living in the displacement camps.  

See how your contribution helped to bring light to the Rohingya community amidst the storm season:

New Gender-Issues Radio Drama: Internews launched Ma Boin er Lai (“Mothers and Daughters”), a radio program focused on issues facing women and girls from both the Rohingya and host communities. As a serialized radio drama, Ma Boin er Lai follows the fictional lives of a female teacher and her students as they navigate a range of topics including sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, women’s mobility, and access to information.

500 Children Celebrate Eid With New Clothes: Just in time for the Islamic holiday of Eid, OBAT Helpers Inc distributed new clothes to 500 children in the learning centers. This joyful celebration was a welcome break from the trauma these children experience living in displacement. 

676 Water Quality Tests Conducted: In the aftermath of heavy monsoon rains, local water sources are susceptible to contamination from parasitic and water-borne diseases. Luckily, refugee camp workers are prepared for this issue and diligently test water source quality to limit communicable disease within the camp. 

5340 Trees Planted to Prevent Landslides: The rapid development of the Kutupalong refugee camp has led to the deforestation of a fragile ecosystem, and directly increased the likelihood of hillsides during pounding monsoon rains. In order to address this precarious situation, Bangladeshi NGO Friendship is working with the Rohingya community to reforest the region. 

As always, thank you for choosing to support community-led organizations as they stand with the Rohingya refugee community in their ongoing displacement. 

 

With gratitude,

Andrea Osorio + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo by HOPE Foundation
Photo by HOPE Foundation
Photo by OBAT Helpers
Photo by OBAT Helpers
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Photo by World Concern
Photo by World Concern

Monsoon season is quickly approaching in Bangladesh—lasting from June to October, it is expected to account for roughly 80% of the country’s yearly rainfall. The monsoon season will include powerful winds, torrential rainfall, and the potential for cyclones. Taken together, these risks will serve only to exacerbate the extreme challenges and poor living conditions facing the more than 900,000 Rohingya that continue to live in refugee camps and informal settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Slow progress has been made in stabilizing the basic needs of the Rohingya living in the camps and settlements, but, even beyond the threats of the upcoming monsoon season, Rohingya refugees still find themselves in a very precarious environment and situation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs explains that the “root causes of their plight in Myanmar have not been addressed and their future is yet uncertain.” For a more detailed overview of the enormous obstacles that continue to face Rohingya communities, you can read the latest situation report released in April by the Inter Sector Coordination Group, the overarching body that is responsible for organizing the international response to the Rohingya refugee crisis.

GlobalGiving’s partner organizations continue to work day in and day out to deliver lifesaving services and support to the Rohingya. Here are recent updates from several of our partners:

  • JAAGO Foundation is expanding its Safe Haven Project that provides trauma counseling services to Rohingya children through the use, for example, of color therapy. To date, the organization has worked with 500 children.

  • Friendship remains committed to providing a wide variety of services to Rohingya living within the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. As of May 2019, the organization has, among other accomplishments, installed more than 40 solar panels, built two maternity centers, distributed more than 12,000 hygiene kits, and installed nearly 200 hand-washing stations.

  • World Concern is continuing to provide relief and safe spaces for Rohingya families in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. You can read more about the recent story of Sajeda, a woman supported by the organization.

  • BRAC USA is working around the clock to prepare and protect Rohingya families from the impacts of the upcoming monsoon season. The organization has trained and deployed a team of 1,000 Rohingya community mobilization volunteers to conduct nearly 10,000 awareness meetings to prepare their community for the monsoon.

You and thousands of other GlobalGivers have raised more than $350,000 for our Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund and have helped make these stories of progress possible. Thank you for your generosity, and for choosing to support community-led organizations responding to this ongoing crisis.

Photo by BRAC USA
Photo by BRAC USA
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