Attacks by armed actors on Burmese security posts in August 2017 and subsequent military operations in Rakhine state, home to the majority of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, has caused a major humanitarian crisis in neighboring Bangladesh. The violence in Burma has forced approximately 693,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to southeastern Bangladesh, joining more than 213,000 Rohingya living in the country prior to August 2017, according to the UN.
Most of these refugees currently reside in temporary settlements near Cox’s Bazar, where they suffer from high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. The concentration of refugees in southeastern Bangladesh is the highest in the world, and the host communities are largely impacted by the influx, the UN reports.
Recurring natural disasters, such as floods and cyclones, continue to exacerbate poverty-related issues, including food insecurity and malnutrition in many parts of the country. While levels of extreme poverty are in decline, approximately 31 percent of Bangladeshis still live below the national poverty line, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP).
Approximately 25 percent of the population in Bangladesh remains food insecure and 36 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffer from stunting—or chronic malnutrition—WFP reports. Additionally, high domestic prices for rice—the staple food crop—heighten food insecurity, particularly among the rural poor.
The Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with CARE International, Helen Keller International and World Vision to implement multi-year development programs to promote agriculture, livelihoods, maternal and child health, women’s empowerment and disaster risk reduction in multiple regions throughout the country. In FY 2018, FFP contributed more than $34.6 million to date to these non-governmental organization partners in support of their programs.
In FY 2018, FFP contributed $7.6 million to the UN Children’s Fund to support Rohingya refugees. The award includes ready-touse therapeutic food to treat an estimated 69,000 children younger than 5 years of age suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and support for community-based management of acute malnutrition activities, including infant malnutrition treatment and breastfeeding activities. In addition, FFP supports a mix of complementary services, such as capacity building and nutrition-sector coordination support.
FFP contributed $18.4 million to WFP in FY 2018 to provide in-kind food aid and food vouchers to Rohingya refugees, as well as cash-based income-generating activities to host communities. WFP assistance in Cox’s Bazar includes a nutritional component, where children under 5 years of age and pregnant and lactating women receive specialized foods to prevent and treat acute malnutrition. WFP co-chairs the Food Security Cluster for the refugee response in Cox’s Bazar, and FFP’s contribution includes coordination support for this effort as well as for the logistics sector to enhance the scale-up of humanitarian activities.
Updated May 1, 2018
Report from US Agency for International Development
Published on 01 May 2018