More than half a million Rohingya refugees have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar since 25 August, leading to the world’s fastest growing humanitarian crisis across the border in Bangladesh. Despite this, the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for the emergency is only one-quarter funded, leaving a shortfall of $328m. 

The International Rescue Committee conducted a needs assessment in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, that highlights the desperate situation faced by Rohingya refugees. The greatest needs identified are; inadequate health care, lack of food, protection for women and children, shelter and sanitation – all currently between 4-18% funded. 

Ahead of a major pledging conference today, organised by the UN and International Organization for Migration (IOM), and co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Kuwait, the IRC is calling for international donors to urgently fill these funding gaps in order to meet the greatest needs.   

Sanna Johnson, regional director for Asia, International Rescue Committee said: 

“With up to 300,000 more Rohingya expected to flee in the coming weeks, the total number of refugees in Bangladesh could top 1 million – the fastest mass exodus the IRC has seen since the Rwandan genocide. 

“The levels of trauma that we are seeing here are severe. We have spoken to women who have seen their children slaughtered before their eyes. 

“In a crisis of such scale, aid agencies have been overwhelmed by the increasing needs and the slow response has been further compounded by a lack of resources. Half of the pregnant women we surveyed had not received any medical care, and a third of families are being forced to defecate in the open, which has the potential to lead to a major health epidemic.

“The international community must step-up and show solidarity for Rohingya refugees who have lost everything, as well as the local population in Bangladesh whose lives have been turned upside down by this crisis. Crucially, however, the spotlight on Bangladesh cannot come at the expense of the 120,000 Rohingya who remain trapped in Myanmar, cut off from essential services and dependent on aid to survive.” 

The IRC is launching an emergency response in Cox’s Bazaar, in collaboration international and local partners, focused on essential health assistance, treatment of malnutrition, protection of vulnerable children and a range of services for women and girls. In Myanmar, the IRC is gradually resuming critical health and protection programmes in Rakhine state – serving both Muslim camps and Rakhine villages - but humanitarian access remains restricted for humanitarian groups and thousands remain out of reach of life-saving aid.