On August 25, 2017, violence in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, forced more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees (estimated to be more than 90% of the Rohingya population in Rakhine State) to flee to shelter in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. The majority of them them were women, children (including newborns) and the elderly.
They joined more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar during previous waves of communal violence, creating a humanitarian crisis on an almost unprecedented scale. The UN estimates that there are now at least 960,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Arriving malnourished, exhausted, sick, traumatized and sometimes injured, this huge influx of refugees rapidly overwhelmed existing camps and humanitarian aid services. A massive relief operation was launched to meet the immediate needs of refugees during what was then the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.
How CPI is helping
When the crisis began, an outpouring of support enabled Community Partners International (CPI) to rapidly scale up our operations, opening an office in Cox's Bazar and hiring a local team to lead our efforts to support Rohingya refugees.
We are working in close partnership with Rohingya communities to empower them to live in health and dignity. We are helping more than 120,000 Rohingya refugees to access essential services. We are focusing on immediate needs and longer-term strategies to strengthen community resilience and support community-led services. Our activities encompass:
CPI is working with Rohingya communities and local partners to establish, strengthen and scale up essential medical and public health services for refugee populations in Cox's Bazar.
Community Health Volunteer (CHV) Network CPI is working in partnership with Rohingya communities to train and equip a network of Rohingya Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). These CHVs travel from house to house in their neighborhoods, educating households on how to stay healthy, helping them to understand the health services available, distributing health and hygiene supplies, monitoring health and referring those in need of care to suitable health facilities.
CPI is also training and equipping the CHVs to act as first responders in medical emergencies, landslides and floods. Their training covers key first aid topics including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support (BLS), bleeding control, wound cleaning and management, basic stabilization of fractures and recognition of danger signs in pregnancy. They also learn how to lift patients safely, take precautions to ensure spinal protection, correctly use stretchers, and practice different types of drags and carries to safely move patients during emergencies. CPI has equipped the CHVs with rescue kits that include life jackets and throwlines for flood rescue, stretchers, head torches, and basic first aid supplies.
Digital Innovation for Community Health CPI has developed a tailored health application to support CHVs to provide effective health education and health monitoring services to their communities. Based on an open-source platform, the application will be loaded onto tablets provided to the CHVs. The application will help CHVs to share key health information with their communities, and support more efficient and accurate collection of health tracking data.
Ambulance Services CPI is supporting the operation, upgrading and training costs of ambulance services run by a local partner in Cox's Bazar. This provides a crucial link for refugees to reach health care facilities with transport that is staffed by trained emergency responders.
Inadequate water and sanitation facilities pose a grave threat to the health of refugees and host communities in Cox's Bazar. Many latrines are already full, in a state of disrepair, or positioned too close to wells. Due to the shallow seashore terrain, many tube wells are not deep enough and have now run dry. CPI is working with local partners to construct tube wells more than 800 feet deep, and to build and repair latrines, in line with WASH sector standards.
CPI is working with local partners to help address the risk and impact of gender-based violence among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar through awareness-raising activities and income generation initiatives for vulnerable women and adolescents.
Cookstoves Refugee populations in Cox's Bazar often struggle to find sufficient fuel to cook their food rations. In some cases, they may be forced to sell food to purchase fuel, contributing to malnutrition. The need for fuel has caused significant deforestation in the areas surrounding refugee settlements. Refugees must often walk long distances to find fuel and, for women and children in particular, this can leave them vulnerable if they are traveling in relatively isolated areas and/or in the hours of darkness. The dwindling fuel resources that people can access are often inefficient and dirty, contributing to high levels of acute respiratory infections to which babies and young children are particularly vulnerable. CPI is working with local partners to source improved and efficient cookstoves that will significantly reduce emissions and fuel consumption.
Solar Lights The lack of lighting in the refugee camps presents a significant safety and security challenge during the hours of darkness for residents, and for women, children and the elderly in particular. Household lights are also needed to increase access to latrines and to facilitate emergency referrals at night. CPI is working with local partners to distribute solar lights to households most in need.
CPI provides essential non-food items to households when specific and urgent gaps in support are identified by our community partners.