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Tearfund Calls for Action in Bangladesh

Tearfund Calls for Action as Bangladesh Becomes Host to World’s Largest Refugee Settlement

Tearfund is calling on the international community to act as Cox’s Bazaar refugee settlement in Bangladesh has become the largest in the world, dwarfing Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda, which held the title as recently as September last year.

More than 800,000 Rohingya refugees —around three times as many people as the 270,000 in Bidi Bidi—are living in informal makeshift dwellings in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, after fleeing persecution and violence in their home state of Rakhine, Myanmar.

Tearfund CEO, Ian McInnes, who is at the settlement, is calling for action.

“This is the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with a further catastrophe looming. After fleeing violence and abuse and witnessing the deaths of loved ones, the Rohingya are now living in terribly cramped conditions in numbers threatening to overwhelm aid agencies. Monsoon season is just around the corner in May and with flimsy shelter on steep hill sides and every tree in sight removed, flooding and landslides are almost inevitable. This combined with insufficient clean water and sanitation means the risk of large scale disease outbreaks and the associated loss of life is huge.

“Tearfund urges the Myanmar government to commit to end the violence and discrimination and review their laws and practices to ensure a pathway to citizenship and security for the Rohingya.

“The Bangladesh government did the right thing in opening up their border, but they cannot carry this burden alone. International donors need to increase aid levels in support of these refugees and urge the Bangladesh government to recognise the Rohingya as official refugees and facilitate a comprehensive aid response.”

The Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority not officially recognised as citizens of Myanmar, are the largest group of stateless people in the world and considered to be among the most persecuted.

New Zealanders wanting to donate to Tearfund’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis appeal can do so at or by calling 0800 800 777. Donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the New Zealand Aid Programme up to $154,000.


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