Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugee Crisis - information needs and the sub-national working group on communicating with communities

Source: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:49 AM
Photo: IOM/M.Mohammed Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved.
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Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Background and priority needs

An eruption of violence on 25 August 2017 in Rakhine State in Myanmar has driven an estimated 430,000 Rohingya refugees across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This brings the population of refugees and undocumented Myanmar Nationals to 607,735 (53% are women and girls; 4% are over 60; 58% are under 18, of which 1% are heads of households; and 29% are under 5[i]).

The sudden influx, on top of an existing crisis and coupled with challenges responders are facing in obtaining authorisation to work in Cox’s Bazar, means needs are high. Priority issues are WASH, health, food and shelter[ii] as well as information on critical issues (see below).The scale, pace, complexity and ramifications of the crisis, coordination, operational, protection, assistance and overall response capacities remain badly stretched and have led to the declaration of an Emergency Level 3 response.

The Government has established a mechanism to receive donation from private individuals and organisations that are not registered to work in Cox’s Bazar. Twelve distributions points have been established to try and curb ad hoc distributions along the roads, which have been creating serious safety and security risks.

Sub-national working group on communicating with communities

In Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, the humanitarian response to the influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar is coordinated by the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) which is led by OCHA. IOM is the lead agency for a sub-national working group on communicating with communities to address information and communication needs that refugees and host communities have. ACF, BBC MA, the Bangladesh Red Crescent, IOM, Save, UNICEF and UNFPA are all working with IOM on this.

While work is in progress on information hubs, there is need for human resources on the ground to support the communication with communities (CWC) interventions effectively. With large population flow into the camps there is need for clear and relevant information to facilitate arrivals to necessary services. Among the many new arrivals, there are families that have no relatives in the makeshift or registered camps. Based on the observation on the ground, UNICEF reports that there is a need for awareness on protection, key life-saving behavioural issues at household level, especially girls awareness on health issues, trafficking, GBV, abuse, violence, child marriage, child labour for parents / care givers as well children and adolescents.[iii]

Proposed actions[iv]:

  • Disseminating information to new undocumented Myanmar nationals through community dialogues and information desks regarding various services available in the camps (particularly referral services, location and activities of mobile CFS and learning centres)
  • Support and work with the CWC sub-national working group to develop information sheets on services available in the camps and existing feedback mechanisms to voice concerns
  • Conduct feedback sessions among target communities to understand the relevance of needs and adjust programming
  • Disseminate key life-saving messages on behaviour and practice through dissemination of Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) materials and technological aid such as tablets/projectors/ sound player.

Key resources

Sub-national working group on communicating with communities - contact Angela Rouse (angela.rouse @ to be put in touch with the coordinator

Assessing Information and Communication Needs: a guide and tools

Bangladesh Message Library - a database of messages that acts as a reference for those wanting to disseminate critical information to affected populations in an emergency. This was developed by representatives from the Disaster Management Department and the clusters, as well as a range of organisations such as UNICEF, BBC Media Action and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. Note that this is not yet available online – contact Angela Rouse (angela.rouse @ for access.

Use the Bangladesh Landscape Guide, a comprehensive and detailed information on the media, telecommunications and humanitarian landscape, to find out what options are available for information dissemination through local media, mobile phone operators and more.

Staffing gaps? Request surge capacity through the Humanitarian Communication Roster.

Need to learn more about why communication with crisis-affected communities is important and how to go about it? Take the short e-learning course or learn more about on content generation for sharing timely, relevant, life-saving information with audiences during humanitarian crises.


[i] Bangladesh | Needs and Population Monitoring (Round 5) | Inter Sector Coordination Group | 25 September 2017

[ii] Bangladesh | Situation Report: Cox’s Bazar Influx  | Inter Sector Coordination Group | 16 September 2017

[iii] Bangladesh | Humanitarian Situation Report (Rohingya influx) | UNICEF | 5 September 2017

[iv] idem

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