× Close

Rohingya Refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh

    Between a rock and a hard place – Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar 

    Since the beginning of the crisis on August 25th, 2017, over 738,817 Rohingya refugees have fled to settlements in Cox’s Bazaar District, in Bangladesh after suffering acute targeted violence in neighboring Rhakine State in Myanmar. As of June 2021, a total of 34 refugee camps were registered, and their population exceeds 890,000 refugees. 

    Three existing makeshift settlements (Kutupalong, Balukhali and Leda), already extremely densely populated, absorbed many of the new arrivals, while new settlements have been established in Burmapara, Chakmarkul, Hakimpara, Jamtoli, Moynarghona and Unchiprang.

    Throughout 2021, the overall situation has not improved for refugees; the issues faced are numerous and include the lack of food, lack of opportunities to make a living, the inability to travel freely beyond the camps because of complicated “camp pass systems” and the implementation of barbed wire fencing across the camp boundaries and also in between camps inducing fear for personal security and safety within the camps.

    Despite the large international response, the general living conditions and the quality of healthcare in the camps is still relatively poor.

    Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new threat to overcrowded conditions.  As of June 2021, 1,790 Rohingya refugees have been tested positive and more than 20 people died.

    On 22 March 2021, a devastating fire broke out in Balukhali camp, causing widespread devastation, the death of 15 people, leaving 560 people injured and displacing nearly 50,000 refugees. While around 6,000 shelters were destroyed by the fire, several health structures have been totally ravaged; these include an MSF primary healthcare centre. 

    Besides, the reinforcement of the relocation of the refugees to Bashan char Island has also had a major impact on the refugees. The Government aims at relocating 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bashan char Island and, so far in 2021, more than 14,000 refugees have been relocated. The relocation process started since December 2020 and continued until April 2021 and there are serious concerns about the suitability of this island and its vulnerability to extreme weather. There are also concerns that Rohingya refugees will not be able to leave the island, even for medical treatment.

    MSF believes that there are significant levels of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) occurring in the camps, a concern supported by anecdotal and informal testimonies from the large MSF outreach team. However, it is unclear whether women and girls recognize it as violence, and where and when to report it (Intimate Partner Violence -IPV- is not a crime in Bangladesh or Myanmar).

    MSF response

    MSF remains one of the most significant health care providers for this population. Sexual and reproductive health needs remain high for both the host community and refugee populations. Mental health needs are high within the refugee’s community and MSF has continued to be the only psychiatric care provider.

    MSF runs two Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) situated in camp 14 (Hakimpara) and camp 15 (Jamtoli

     Primary   Health Care   Centers   (PHCCs)

     Hakimpara   (Camp  14)

     Primary health care activities; operating   24/7

     Mental Health and psychiatric care 

     Observation & Isolation: 10 beds capacity


     Comprehensive Sexual and Gender-   based Violence (SGBV) care  

      BEmONC (ANC, PNC, FP) 

     Sexual and Reproductive Health   (SRH) services: deliveries referred to   Jamtoli

     Lab facility

     Health promotion activities

     (Camp 15)

     Primary health care activities; operating   24/7. 

     Observation and Isolation: 10 beds   capacity

     Hepatitis C Program and Non   communicable disease corner,

     Mental Health and psychiatric care


     Comprehensive SGBV care  

     basic emergency obstetric and   newborn care: ante and postnatal  care, Family Planning

     SRH services: 10 beds capacity  (Antenatal, delivery, post-partum)

     Lab facility with GenExpert

     Health promotion activities

    MSF works on the empowerment of the national staff through a progressive delegation of responsibilities and continuous formal and bedside trainings. Our community engagement also has the objective to anchor our activities within the refugees’ community.

    Our presence in Jamtoli remains relevant and MSF is committed to remain present at least until end 2022.