Press Release: Out of the Fire, into the Storm: Monsoon Season Threatens Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

New survey highlights protection issues and everyday struggle of Rohingya refugees ahead of potentially deadly rains

(COX’S BAZAR, March 14, 2018)—Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh face unemployment and restrictions on access to education for children, raising protection concerns, according to data from a survey that forms the basis of a new “situational report” published today by Xchange. The survey data and report come ahead of a monsoon season that is expected to be deadly for the refugee population in Bangladesh.

Xchange is a data-driven organization connected to MOAS, an aid organization working in the refugee camps. Xchange conducted the quantitative survey of more than 1,500 respondents in the Shamlapur and Unchiprang refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh from January 14 to February 14, 2018. The survey data reveals critical details about the uprooted lives of Rohingya refugees. Regina Catrambone, Director of MOAS stated that,

These findings reveal alarming losses the Rohingya have endured and their resilience to start again. Our Aid Stations have been providing medical care for many of these people since September but now they face a new threat we can’t control. The winds and rain of the cyclone and monsoon seasons are coming and with the unstable terrain and squalid conditions they live in, we fear their lives will be threatened again. Like the Rohingya, we are resilient. We are prepared to stay and ride the storm providing the healthcare and safety they need.

The Rohingya refugee crisis along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh has been one of the world’s fastest-developing refugee crises. From August 25 of last year onward, more than 650,000 Rohingya fled untold horrors perpetrated by Myanmar security forces, a campaign of terror and displacement that United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, stated bears “the hallmarks of genocide.”

Seasonal weather patterns pose a severe risk for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh that will invariably serve to compound the difficulties they face. With the monsoon season set to start in the coming months, authorities have warned of mass casualties from storms unless mitigation and strengthening programs are immediately put in place. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 100,000 refugees risk losing their shelters to floods and landslides.

A similar survey conducted last year by Xchange focused on violence, abuse, and other incidents experienced by Rohingya in Myanmar that forced them to flee to Bangladesh, and the details of the journeys that brought them to Bangladesh. The situational report published today, requested by Xchange’s sister organisation MOAS, builds on previous research by exploring how refugees in Bangladesh are surviving day-to-day in the camps, before potentially deadly monsoon rains begin.

Drawing on more than 1,500 surveys conducted at MOAS’s Aid Stations in Shamlapur and Unchiprang refugee camps, Xchange is able to paint a demographic picture within the camps and the challenges Rohingya continue to face, including perceptions of personal safety.

Survey respondents universally claimed their personal security had improved markedly since their arrival in Bangladesh. But despite the relative safe haven provided to them across the border, their lives remain marked by daily struggle for survival, faced as they are with a lack of employment opportunities, overcrowded shelters, poor sanitation, and a host of other challenges. There has been a significant breakdown of traditional gender roles as refugees have had to develop flexible strategies to ensure their survival in what remains a hostile environment. Maria Jones, Senior Research Advisor at Xchange said that,

Rohingya families need to earn a living, these communities naturally want a semblance of normality; they want money, savings, and safety nets. They came with whatever they could carry, some arrived with absolutely nothing.

Xchange, as a data-driven organisation, firmly believes that reliable and credible data should inform policy. By producing high-quality and relevant research on the lives and fears of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the findings gathered in this snapshot can pave the way for larger, more in-depth investigations on topics such as access to education, livelihood opportunities, and protection issues.

These survey findings can – and should – help donors prioritise resilience for refugees in the face of the destructive power of the monsoon season, Xchange said.

The full report can be found here

For press enquiries and interviews about the report please contact:

Maria Jones

Senior Research Advisor: Xchange Foundation


Phone: (Office) +356 2131 0047

PR Mob: +356 7984 9591