Myanmar refugee crisis: Fleeing from violence into chaos

Jannat Ara pictured with her 10-month-old child at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Jannat Ara lost track of her husband while they were fleeing for their lives from an attack on her village in Myanmar. She managed to cross the border to Bangladesh with her 10-month-old child, but she doesn’t know what happened to her husband.

And she doesn’t know what the future holds for her and her baby.

She is one of an estimated 436,000 refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past month. Many are still moving around the area, seeking shelter and assistance.

Refugees waiting by the roadside in Bangladesh
Refugees waiting by the roadside for shelter and food in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar
An elderly woman stands beside a makeshift shelter
Amina, a 55-year-old woman, stands beside her makeshift shelter by the roadside in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar

Tens of thousands of new arrivals have nothing with which to make a shelter, or are making temporary structures wherever they can find space. In refugee camps and settlements, overcrowding and heavy rains mean conditions are grim.

Man carrying boy down muddy path
A man carries a boy down a muddy path at the refugee campe at Balukhali, Cox’s Bazar
A view of the refugee camp
A view of the refugee camp
People on a muddy path at the refugee camp
People on a muddy path through the refugee camp

CARE’s own assessments and those of other humanitarian agencies highlight that people are in urgent need of every type of humanitarian assistance – with shelter, food, nutrition and health needs the most urgent. The poor conditions and lack of health services in the camps means there is a real risk of outbreaks of disease.

A man carrying bamboo poles through a flood
A man carries shelter materials to a new place after heavy rains caused flooding
A man carrying food from a locally-organised aid distribution
A man carrying a sack of food from a locally-organised aid distribution
A woman waiting outside her shelter at the refugee camp
A woman waiting for her husband: women are usually expected to stay in the camp while men go out searching for food assistance

Around 80% of the refugees are estimated to be women and children and the physical and mental health of survivors of gender-based violence is a major concern, with numerous reports of rape and other forms of gender-based violence having been experienced by refugees as they fled from the violence in Myanmar. The trauma of fleeing violence and the effects of bereavement are also of concern.

A woman and child in Bangladesh
It took Nunaje more than 10 days to reach Bangladesh from Myanmar. Her village was burnt down. She lost 18 of her neighbours.

What CARE is doing

CARE Bangladesh has completed a rapid needs assessment and gender analysis and is working with local NGOs and other international humanitarian agencies, in cooperation with the government of Bangladesh, to coordinate a response. So far we have provided cooked food and shelter items to 4,650 refugees, but the level of need remains immense, and much more help is needed.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.