Bangladesh - 2021 plan - Multi-Year Protection and Solutions Strategy


UNHCR’s focus remains on building a favourable protection environment for the more than 860,000 refugees in the settlements, advancing protection and gender mainstreaming, access to justice, and improving the refugees’ quality of life by empowering the community and strengthening existing community-based structures. UNHCR will also strengthen Government leadership with the gradual handover of camp management to the Government, catalyse strategic partnerships, explore comprehensive solutions and strengthen localization efforts.

A more complex security and protection environment is expected amidst continuing violence and criminality in the camps, affecting refugees and humanitarian workers. Protection space is likely to be subject to additional pressure created by fencing and potential security enforcement measures, which may not be aligned with protection principles; ongoing drug trade and trafficking; and a volatile situation across the border in Myanmar. This may spur an increase in negative coping mechanisms in refugee communities, including dangerous onward movements. UNHCR will continue advocacy efforts and collaboration in the region to secure access to Rohingya refugees and to assess their basic needs.

In 2021, UNHCR expects the Government to maintain its position on voluntary repatriation as the only feasible solution for the Rohingya refugees. The Government policy framework therefore emphasizes temporariness over more durable responses. UNHCR will work within policy constraints to expand opportunities for learning, skills training and livelihoods, while advocating greater access to education, employment and economic inclusion. UNHCR will also support host communities, while focusing on the broader challenges undermining social cohesion (e.g. environmental degradation, water scarcity, employment and livelihoods). UNHCR will seek and leverage strategic partnerships with development actors, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, in order to catalyse development-oriented approaches to enhance support for refugees and host communities.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic rapidly unfolded in 2020, UNHCR stepped up preparedness, prevention and response measures in the camps and the host community, adjusting its activities in line with Government and World Health Organization COVID-19 containment measures while ensuring continued services to refugees and the host community. In line with Government directives and to mitigate COVID-19 risks, UNHCR suspended or postponed key activities, with temporary reductions in work on educational facilities, community centres, site improvement and construction, and activities involving large gatherings. After restrictions gradually eased in the last quarter of 2020, UNHCR expects to reinstate and continue the implementation of most suspended or postponed interventions in 2021. UNHCR will continue the implementation of COVID-19 responses focusing on the health programme, noting the need for additional resources to ensure uninterrupted services. UNHCR aims to mainstream COVID-19 related interventions into regular programming for 2020, while maintaining the flexibility to adjust if supplementary funds become available.

In 2021, UNHCR Bangladesh will streamline and rationalize structures in Cox’s Bazar, with the reduction of the overall number of positions particularly under vacant positions. With the support of the UNHCR Medical Service, UNHCR Bangladesh is planning to continue partnering with WFP, IOM and UNICEF to establish and operate a UN COVID-19 Medical Treatment Facility for UN personnel and dependants and other frontline humanitarian workers, working with a private international healthcare provider.