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close this bookRefugee Nutrition Information System (RNIS), No. 27 - Report on the Nutrition Situation of Refugee and Displaced Populations (UNSSCN, 1999, 78 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentHighlights
View the document1. Angola
Open this folder and view contents2. Great Lakes Region
View the document3. Ethiopia
View the document4. Eritrea
View the document5. Kenya
Open this folder and view contents6. Liberia/Sierra Leone Region
View the document7. Guinea Bissau
View the document8. Somalia
Open this folder and view contents9. Sudan
View the document10. Uganda
View the document11. Zambia
Open this folder and view contents12. Afghanistan Region
View the document13. Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal
View the document14. Refugees from Rakhine State, Myanmar in Bangladesh
View the document15. Kosovo Crisis
View the documentListing of Sources for June 1999 RNIS Report *27
View the documentAbbreviations used in the text
View the documentTables and figures
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14. Refugees from Rakhine State, Myanmar in Bangladesh

An estimated 22,500 refugees from Rakhine state in Myanmar live in two camps in southern Bangladesh (UNHCR - 06/99). They were among the 250,000 people who originally fled Myanmar in 1992, claiming widespread human rights abuses. Repatriation began in 1992 and by April 1997 some 230,000 refugees had been repatriated. However, the repatriation programme was suspended in mid-1997 and, although a list of 7,000 refugees who wish to return from Bangladesh has been approved by the Government of Myanmar, no schedule has been set for their return.

The Government of Bangladesh does not allow the refugees to undertake employment or income-generating activities. WFP food aid is thus the primary means of meeting the basic nutritional needs of this population. UNHCR continues to supply other non-food items to the refugees such as soap, kerosene, plastic sheeting and clothing. The sanitation facilities in the camps are adequate and average water use is 21-22 litres/per person/day (UNHCR - 06/99).

A nutrition survey completed in March 1999 by UNHCR revealed an increase in the prevalence of acute wasting from 11.5% in February 1998 to 14.3%, with 0.7% severe wasting (see Annex). Oedema was reported in 0.2% of the population. The explanations given for the level of wasting found included: a monthly average under-distribution of food of 5-7%, selling of rations, certain food items such as pulses or blended foods were sometimes not available in the ration and were substituted with other items and the coverage of the supplementary feeding programmes was not complete. In addition it was suggested that the population may not have been adequately informed by the camp health workers about how to best cook and eat the food types given to them (UNHCR - 14/06/99, 28/06/99).

As part of a response to these findings, consultations between UNHCR/WFP and the NGOs have resulted in the abolition of the wet feeding programmes. Instead, the undernourished children are given High Energy Milk twice a day at the feeding centre twice a day.

Priorities and recommendations

· Assess the causes for the increase in the prevalence of wasting seen.

Overall, the refugees in Bangladesh are not considered to be at heightened nutritional risk (category IIc).