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Rohingya explained

14 August 2018, Impact of Our Work, Emergencies

The Rohingya Crisis: One Year On

It has been one year since the Rohingya Crisis unfolded. For the thousands of children and families who were forced to flee unimaginable violence in Myanmar, their lives have changed forever. 

The future of more than 700,000 persecuted Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazaar Refugee Camp remains uncertain. Living in limbo, children and their families have had to reframe how they survive day to day. 

There is still no tenable solution. Children dream of normalcy. Families wait for something to change. In the meantime they face daily battles as monsoon rains flood the camp and wash away shaky shelters. Children are in danger of early marriage and trafficking, or malnutrition and disease. Families are heavily reliant on aid for food and healthcare. And babies recently born from sexual violence inflicted during the atrocities bring a new set of challenges for children. 

The haunting memory of harrowing violence remains too – villages burnt to the ground and family members killed, of sexual violence and terrifying escapes etched into the minds of survivors.

"The military came into our village at night … as we were fleeing, I turned around and saw my house totally burned down." – Majuma* fled with her husband and son. They arrived in Cox’s Bazar in early September.

Save the Children’s response

Our response in Cox’s Bazar is long-term. To date, we have reached a total of 758,484 people, of whom 428,809 are children. We’re dedicated to supporting Rohingya children and families for as long as it takes to find a solution to this crisis. Read more on how your generous support has helped the Rohingya over the past 12 months.

We help families build shelters and continue to provide round-the-clock food to almost one-third of the refugee population. We have 

  • established nine health posts that treat 1,000 people every day. 
  • provided hygiene kits to help stop the spread of disease, particularly during the monsoon. 
  • set up emergency education centres for children.
Experience what it is like for the Rohingya and step into the realities of life in Cox’s Bazar.
One of our biggest concerns is the safety and wellbeing of children, thousands of who arrived in Cox’s Bazar alone. Where possible, we have reunited families. For children who have lost family, we’re providing care and protection. Our child friendly spaces offer children the space to play, receive emotional support and feel a sense of normalcy.

Scroll down to read the words of the children and families we are helping.

And join us for a live discussion covering analysis and first hand accounts of the situation. 

In their own words: Ayesha*

Ayesha lives with her mother, father, two sisters and brother in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Her family arrived in September 2017 after fleeing violence in Myanmar. Since arriving in the camps, Ayesha has been attending a Save the Children learning centre. She says she loves learning English and being able to make new friends. 

“I would describe myself as brave but shy.

“When we arrived in Bangladesh, I didn’t have any friends. I went to the learning centre to meet friends, and to learn and play. I had to stop school in Myanmar because of the restless situation there. I wanted to learn.

“After going to the learning centre, I made some friends. We go to the centre together and learn together.

“Save the Children have given me a backpack with a pen, colouring pencils, notepaper, a water bottle and an umbrella. I use these when I go to the learning centre. 

“My favourite subjects are English … because if I learn English, I will be able to teach English. When I play with my friends, read, write and draw at the learning centre, I feel happy.”

In their own words: Ara*

Kismot Ara, 25, lives in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar with her husband, two young sons and seven-month-old Jamila. Kismot Ara arrived in the camps in October 2017, after fleeing violence in her village in Myanmar. She fled while heavily pregnant and gave birth to Jamila shortly after arriving in Bangladesh.

“When she was born, my daughter (Jamila*) was very skinny. After coming to the nutrition centre few times and feeding her the peanut paste, she started to get well. But, she got diarrhoea again recently and is now starting to lose weight and getting skinny like before.

“I often come to the Save the Children clinic to receive medicine for me and my children … the people from Save the Children also come to our home and talk to us about the importance of hygiene and nutrition, and how to stay clean and healthy.

“This clinic is very important, because people get sick often and here we can get medicine free of cost. This is a blessing for us.

“I don't want to go back to Myanmar and lose everything again. I want to give my children a safe and happy life. I also want my daughter to be healthy like other children.”

In their own words: Alia*

Alia, 16, fled her village in Northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, after it was attacked by the military. It took her and her family three days to reach the Bangladeshi border. Her family managed to find shelter in Kutupalong refugee camp.

“The military came to our village and started setting houses on fire. My family and I fled into the jungle immediately to hide. I could watch the military burning down the entire village and killing people. They shot, cut up, and stabbed many men and women. I could see everything and I was very scared that they would find us and kill my family and I too.

“It took us three days to reach the border, walking throughout the nights … I saw three people dying from exhaustion, dehydration, and not being able to eat.

“I miss going to school … Burmese and English were my favourite subjects. I liked English in particular as it is spoken all over the world.

“Here in the refugee camp … at night, we all sleep on a plastic sheet, which is very cold, especially when it rains. I have become ill because of that. Life here is hard and I have a lot of nightmares about what I witnessed the day we fled our village. I really want to return to my home in Myanmar.”

Our response to the Rohingya crisis

Save the Children is on the ground providing food, water, shelter, healthcare, education and safe spaces for children – as well as hygiene kits to stop disease spreading. We continue to reunite unaccompanied children with their families.

We’re distributing shelter, food and hygiene kits to families.


We’ve set up 82 spaces where children can play, recover and, crucially, continue learning.


We’ve established 9 health clinics, which treat 1,000 people every day.


We’re making sure children who are alone get 24-hour protection, and working to reunite families.

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. Before the escalation of violence in Myanmar at the end of August, there were already around 200,000 Rohingya living in camps and makeshift settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Save the Children has been working in Cox's Bazar since 2012, providing vital services to displaced Rohingya children and their families. But now the number of people in need has tripled in an incredibly short space of time and more help is desperately needed.

*Names change for child protection.

Hanina's story

In Cox’s Bazar, we have set up 82 child-friendly spaces where children can play, recover and continue to learn. Hanina is one Rohingya child we met in a child-friendly space. Find out more in this video about how you’re helping to create safe spaces for the Rohingya children.

How you're helping the Rohingya

In August 2017, violence forced more than 650,000 Rohingya people to flee Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya settled in a small amount of land but now heavy rains and powerful winds are tearing through the camps. Your support is helping Save the Children in our response to this crisis. We are repairing latrines, shelters and providing food, water and safe spaces. Find out more in this video about how your donations are helping Rohingya children.

Safe places to play

Inside one of our Child Friendly Spaces for Rohingya children

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