UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has relocated some 1,700 new refugees to a government-allocated site in south-eastern Bangladesh, decongesting existing facilities in Kutupalong and giving them a home after weeks on the move.
Most of the affected refugees are among the thousands of refugees who trekked for about a week to cross the Bangladesh border, only to be stranded in a border village for four days before being allowed to proceed inland last week. UNHCR opened up a transit centre and some refugee schools in Kutupalong refugee camp to temporarily accommodate the most vulnerable refugees caught in this sudden influx.
The relocation started on Tuesday in an effort to decongest Kutupalong’s schools and resume classes, and to free up the transit centre for further arrivals.
A total of 5,000 refugees will be moved to the newly-opened site, which is part of a larger 3,000-acre piece of land known as Kutupalong Extension designated by the Bangladesh government to host the new arrivals.
Ahead of the move, UNHCR developed a site plan for the hilly area and started building latrines and digging tube wells. Space has also been demarcated for partners to build facilities like community centres, health posts, schools and child-friendly spaces. UNHCR is partially funding the construction of a road near the site to improve access to refugees and speed up the delivery of assistance.
Since Tuesday, volunteers have been helping vulnerable refugees to carry their belongings to the new site. UNHCR is distributing household items and shelter kits containing plastic sheets, bamboo poles and rope. Save the Children is hiring workers to help with shelter construction for the most vulnerable refugees. Local NGO Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) is doing medical screenings while Action Against Hunger is offering food and water until the refugees can cook for themselves.
An estimated 605,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since violence broke out in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in late August.