6 years into the Rohingya refugee crisis, nearly 1 million Rohingya remain stranded in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh, their plight far from over.
With few employment opportunities and their movement restricted, the Rohingya in the camps have no other means to support themselves, relying solely on humanitarian assistance.
Since 2017, the EU has contributed over €50 million in funding towards WFP’s emergency operations, including the food assistance lifeline that the entire Rohingya population has been counting on to meet their basic food and nutrition needs.
As their vulnerability deepens amidst the global food, the fuel crisis and rising domestic inflation and dwindling foreign reserves, this lifeline has been under serious threat due to funding shortfalls.
In March, WFP was forced to reduce the food voucher value from US$12 to US$10 per person per month. The Rohingya families spent Ramadan and Eid coping with the reduced food assistance. Then a large fire broke out in the camps, destroying shelters, along with health and nutrition centres, leaving nearly 20,000 people homeless overnight.
Then on 14 May, Cyclone Mocha, the strongest storm to strike the Bay of Bengal in over a decade, hit the camps. Heavy rains and winds triggered flash floods and landslides, washing away roads and damaging shelters. Some 15,000 children were affected with their learning centres damaged.
While the needs are rising, the funding gap persists. With over €50 million remaining unfunded, the food assistance programme will soon be cut again, from US$10 to US$ 8 per person per month starting in June 2023.
With already high levels of hunger and malnutrition, the repercussions of another ration cut will be devastating. Not only will it impact nutrition, but education, protection and safety and security, as parents may withdraw their children from school and let them work, offer their daughters to early marriage and risk their lives to leave the camps.
Below is a collection of some of the Rohingya men, women and children we met in recent months, who opened up to us about their struggles to make ends meet. They asked us not to cut their food rations and bring them back to what they were before. Here are their words.
Story and photos by the World Food Programme
(c) 2023, European Commission via World Food Programme