Press Release

UNFPA takes the lead in supporting survivors of sexual assault and other gender-based violence in the Rohingya refugee crisis

26 September 2017

Cox’s Bazar, BANGLADESH - Since 25 August, violence and conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has caused up to 480,000 Rohingya civilians to flee across the border into the Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh. UNFPA estimates that at least 120,000 of these refugees are women of reproductive age and 24,000 are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Most people fled with only what they could carry. Families have been separated during the journey.

Women and girls have reported horrific stories of sexual violence during their journey across the border into Bangladesh. There have also been reports of domestic violence and trafficking.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, leads the United Nations response to gender-based violence in emergencies, providing care and services for survivors.  UNFPA also leads the United Nations effort to provide life-saving reproductive and maternal health care to women and adolescent girls. 

UNFPA has established a range of services that have reached more than 7,000 women and girls. These services include safe spaces, maternal health and psychological care, mobile health clinics as well as distribution of hygiene items. However, given the scale of the crisis, UNFPA and other United Nations agencies, along with Government and civil society partners, are struggling to meet the rapidly rising demand for services. UNFPA alone needs an additional $13 million to meet the demand for services over the next six months.

“The suffering of women and girls in the Rohingya crisis cannot be overstated,” says UNFPA Acting Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem. “The health and safety of women and girls must be protected,” Dr. Kanem added. “All women and girls, regardless of their ethnicity or religious affiliations, must have access to health care and other essential services without discrimination, and they must be protected from all forms of violence, including sexual assault.”

For further information, please contact:
Roy Wadia, UNFPA Asia-Pacific: +66 848 752 634 /
Jeffrey Bates, UNFPA New York, +1-646-750-5354 /

Population : 168.1 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 57%
Girls 67%