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Since 25 August 2017, over 738 000 Rohingya refugees escaping violence and persecution in Myanmar have settled in camps, settlements and within host communities in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh, bringing the total number of refugees in the area to nearly 907 000 by December 2018, which is more than three times the number of the host population in the district. The growing refugee population has had a heavy impact on the lives and livelihoods of the local populations in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas – already among the poorest in Bangladesh.

In 2018, almost 1.3 million people were food insecure in Cox’s Bazar. Trends of food security indicators, as shown by WFP’s May–June and August–September monitoring rounds suggest that overall food security among the Rohingya refugee population has improved since the 2017 Refugee Influx Emergency Vulnerability Assessment (REVA) baseline. This is likely thanks to regular and effective general food assistance through in-kind and voucher programmes on which the refugee population is almost 100 percent reliant. A comparison between the 2017 REVA and the latest monitoring round in 2018 (August–September) showed that 91 percent of displaced households were able to maintain or improve their food consumption status. However, food security for host communities showed a marked deterioration, with the percentage of households with poor/borderline food consumption increasing sharply from 31 percent in 2017 to 80 percent by August– September 2018. While displaced households registered a more diverse diet during August–September than at baseline as a result of receiving vouchers and sustained food assistance, the dietary diversity of host community households decreased.

Nearly seven in 10 refugee households borrowed money to meet their food needs in August–September 2018. They have also become increasingly likely to sell food rations or non-food assistance, a coping strategy used by only two percent of households at the baseline, and by 30 percent by August–September 2018. For the host community borrowing money to buy food remained the most used coping strategy (48 percent), followed by the selling of jewellery and the use of savings (28 percent).

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