Violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people to flee their homeland, undertaking an uncertain and perilous journey over the border, into Bangladesh. Since August 2017, roughly 1.2 million Rohingya people have been displaced into Bangladesh, with almost 700,000 new arrivals since January 2018. A significant percentage of the refugee population are children, young mothers, and elderly people. Many arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Over half the refugees are children, many of whom are traumatised and weak from the long walk; some have arrived alone.
Despite great efforts to support those in need, the refugee camps in Bangladesh are ill-equipped to deal with this sudden influx of people and camps are forced to run without basic shelter, food, water, or healthcare facilities.
ActionAid Australia, in partnership with ActionAid Bangladesh and ChildFund, supported a women-led humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar to protect the rights of women and children, and safeguard them against further trauma. Our response was focussed on linking child-friendly corners with Women Friendly Spaces, to ensure mothers can access information and support for themselves and their children. In addition, we supported women to access adequate nutrition and care for their sanitation and hygiene needs, including the provision of dignity kits. The Women Friendly Spaces also worked to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and abuse, and offered counselling to women who experienced abuse or violence.
ActionAid’s women-led humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis included:
● Provision of safe drinking water through the installation of wells in locations identified as safe and secure for women and girls
● Construction of women friendly latrines and bathing spaces
● Installation of solar street lights and establishment of a community protection group
● Supporting women-headed families to protect against health hazards posed by toxic fuels
Counselling in women-friendly spaces for women experiencing trauma, violence and abuse