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Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh: A Summary of Findings from Six Pooled Surveys

December 14th, 2017  •  Author:   Doctors Without borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)  •  2 minute read
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On 25 August 2017, a counter-insurgency military operation in Rakhine State, Myanmar, led to a mass displacement of Rohingya civilians into Bangladesh. Over the following three months, some 626,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh to escape the violence. To assess the scale of the emergency and the needs for humanitarian assistance, Doctors Without borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) conducted six surveys to estimate the retrospective mortality of the population residing in Kutupalong, Balukhali and Tasnimarkhola settlements in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh (Figure 1). The surveys targeted a total estimated population of 608,108, 82.8% of whom were “newly-displaced” from Myanmar, i.e. had arrived after 25 August 2017.


In November 2017, MSF conducted six retrospective surveys among the Rohingya population in Bangladesh. Four surveys were carried out in the northern settlements (in Kutupalong makeshift settlement, Balukhali makeshift settlement and in the extensions of these settlements), covering an estimated population of 367,718. A further two surveys were carried out in the southern settlements (in Balukhali 2 and Tasnimarkhola settlements), covering approximately 135,980 people. In the north, the survey team used simple random sampling, with a sample size of 905 households; in the south, systemic sampling was used, with a sample size of 1,529 households. In total, survey teams conducted interviews with 2,434 households (representing 11,426 people). The recall period for the surveys covered roughly equal time periods before and after 25 August 2017, beginning on 27 May 2017 and ending on 30 October 2017. Heads of households described the family structure and provided the date, location and cause of death of family members who died during the recall period. To pool the collective survey results, MSF performed a weighted analysis using the relative population estimates for each survey’s catchment area.


These surveys are representative of 503,698 Rohingya who arrived from Myanmar’s Rakhine State during the recent mass displacements, and 104,410 Rohingya already living in the settlements in Bangladesh prior to 25 August 2017. Some 626,000 Rohingya are estimated to have arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August, and therefore the MSF surveys represent 80.4% of the total newly-arrived population in Bangladesh from Myanmar. Deaths that are reported to have occurred during the first month of the crisis (25 August to 24 September 2017) represent 2.26% of the total population [95% CI: 1.87 – 2.73%], with 2.83% [95% CI: 2.23 – 3.59%] of deaths in the male and 1.69% [95 CI: 1.24 – 2.30%] of deaths in the female population at that time (Table 1).

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