This research paper describes the many ways that individuals and families living in refugee camps in Bangladesh cope with hardship and life in displacement. It presents new information on family separation as an additional source of hardship, but also as a source of support through which remittances sometimes flow, and often as a risky but hopeful investment in a better future for those who manage to reach a third country beyond Myanmar and Bangladesh. The study also looks at economic hardship and the coping strategies of refugee households, presenting new evidence on the cost of living in the camps, income sources and indebtedness, remittances, and the equivocal role of dowry payments. It includes data on the gendered implications of displacement, mobility, and economic hardship.

The report makes the following recommendations for supporting Rohingya families in Bangladesh:

Supporting separated families

  • Facilitate communication across borders by restoring and improving internet access in the camps and allowing camp residents to use biometric smartcards as identification to purchase and register SIM cards.
  • Support the documentation of Rohingya-owned assets left in Myanmar.
  • Improve transparent access to data relevant to the repatriation process.
  • Use bilateral cooperation to support the reunification of families with members living in countries with active resettlement programs.

Improving well-being and economic resilience

  • Expand access to livelihood opportunities for camp residents.
  • Improve pathways for Rohingya voices to be heard in decisions that affect them.
  • Improve access to financial services to mitigate debt.
  • Anticipate the impact of the current economic downturn on access to remittances.
  • Balance increased livelihood support to refugees by also investing in sustainable development solutions for host communities.