A third of the Rohingya refugee population counted in Bangladesh are vulnerable to malnutrition, serious health problems and disabilities, UN refugee agency teams have found.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced the statistic on November 7, 2017 at a press briefing in Geneva, after new data collection technology was used in a family counting exercise.
A spokesperson for the UNHCR said that 14% of the refugee population that had fled into the Commonwealth country of Bangladesh from Myanmar are single mothers with families that have little support against difficult camp conditions.
Women and children make up more than half of the total count, with many children unaccompanied and separated from their families or taking care of younger siblings.
Elderly people also make up a high proportion of those at risk, the report found.
UNHCR and Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) conducted the individual biometric registration exercise in the Kutupalong camp and its extension areas and Balukhali makeshift areas, with plans now to extend further south.
Over 100 enumerators gathered data on 517,643 refugees from 120,284 families.
This emergency registration is possible due to new data collecting technology.
A geo-tagged data collection device is designed to use GPS even without network coverage, which enables more efficient data consolidation and analysis.
A barcoded RRRC family counting card has also provided more information on refugee demography and location within Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees are fleeing persecution in Myanmar, with over 820,000 estimated to have crossed the border into Bangladesh.
Preliminary data from a recent nutrition assessment conducted in the Kutupalong camp showed a 7.5% occurrence of life-threatening acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF, who are treating more than 2000 children at 15 malnutrition treatment centres.
These centres are also battling a rising number of cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia through vaccination and nutrition screenings.
At the press briefing, UNHCR spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan said: “Because the refugees are still on the move and site zoning is still in progress, the enumerators visit their shelters individually, meaning that refugees do not have to queue to be counted.”