Sabikunnahar who lives in the Rohingya refugee camp is walking using rails. .

Supporting people with disabilities in Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp

In 2017, one million Muslim-majority Rohingya people were forced to flee horrific violence in Myanmar, and seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. Five years later, most are still living in refugee camps like Cox’s Bazar. Living conditions in the camps continue to be extremely tough with hundreds of thousands of women, men and children living in tents and makeshift shelters. Food and medical care are in short supply. For people living with disabilities, life is even more challenging.

12% of people in Cox’s Bazar are living with a disability (Relief Web – Open in new tab). Of these, only half have been able to access assistive devices like wheelchairs and crutches, and only 1% have home modifications like ramps or handrails. Without these services, and with rough makeshift shelters and hilly terrain, people with disabilities often can’t move around the camp or even within their own homes. They also struggle to access crucial services like healthcare and schools. These barriers prevent people with disabilities from participating in the life of the community, and place an unnecessary burden on family members who have become carers.

CBM has been working with long-term local partner, Centre for Disability in Development (CDD), in the camp and host community since 2017. CBM UK launched an additional ten-month project in October 2022, in the same locations as the existing work (camps 8W, 11, 13, 18 and 19, and Rajapalong, Ratanapalong, and Holdiapalong Unions in the host community). No other organisations are working in these areas providing similar services, making our project essential to people living with disabilities.

Watch these videos to see more of the work CBM and CDD are doing together in Cox’s Bazar:

Building on the progress of previous years, our new project is enabling 800 additional people with disabilities to access the services they desperately need:

Distributing 694 assistive devices

  • Assessing individual client needs for assistive devices
  • Sourcing appropriate assistive devices (either bought locally (eg. crutches, walkers and toilet chairs) or custom-made in CDD’s workshop (eg. wheelchairs, special seat chairs, tricycles and prosthetic limbs)
  • Providing training on how to use devices
  • Keeping devices in good working order

Improving 40 homes and WASH facilities

  • Assessing 40 shelters, homes and communal WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities to see how they could be modified to improve access
  • Installing ramps and handrails between a person’s shelter and the WASH facilities, and the pathways in between

Modifying 14 government buildings, schools and health facilities

  • Improving access to community venues including:
    • three government offices, two health centres, six government primary and secondary schools in the host community
    • three Camp-in-Charge Offices in the camp
  • Installing ramps with handrails, and accessible WASH facilities

These services will give people with disabilities – and their families – a vastly improved quality of life, more independence, and more opportunity to participate in the community.

Gathering Evidence to support disability inclusion in the camp

The project will also focus on gathering examples of successful accessibility modifications within the camp. We will make a documentary video showcasing these modifications, which will be shared with others working in the camps to help them to make their facilities more accessible. This will help to increase the impact of this particular project, bringing broader benefits for people with disabilities within Cox’s Bazar.

This project is funded by Guernsey Overseas Aid.

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Transforming lives

Kamal in makeshift tent at Cox's Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh


“I will never forget the smell of the fires, the screams, these horrible screams. I see these sequences again and again…”

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