Our Thoughts: Rohingya share their experiences and recommendations
For months, if not years, many Rohingya in the camps have continuously reported that they are unable to provide meaningful input into decision-making within the response and have their thoughts heard. In late 2020, the IOM Communicating with Communities (CwC) and ACAPS-NPM teams decided to undertake a large-scale exploration of Rohingya thoughts and perspectives. Three years after the influx, this report is a critical exploration of accountability and inclusiveness in the humanitarian response. The research sought to go beyond ‘whether Rohingya people are consulted’ to understand Rohingya thoughts on the response and how they feel treated by response actors.
Intrinsic in this report is the understanding that the Rohingya community and the response itself are diverse and complicated, with many different dynamics that require age, ability, gender, and other aspects to be considered.
Taking these different groups into account, four overarching questions guided the research design process:
What types of assistance and services do Rohingya women, girls, men, boys, hijra, and people with disabilities value and why? What are the main problems they would like addressed in 2021 with respect to aid provision and access to aid?
What relationships do Rohingya women, girls, men, boys, hijra, and people with disabilities have with different actors within the response? How are these characterised, valued, and understood? How can these relationships be strengthened with respect to dignity, accountability, and trust?
How are Rohingya women, girls, men, boys, hijra, and people with disabilities included in decision-making related to the response? How do they feel about how they are – or are not – consulted or included in decisions? In what ways would they like to take on greater responsibility within the response?
Do people understand existing complaint mechanisms and do they feel these systems work adequately to address their specific problems?
As part of this study, over 1,200 Rohingya participated in more than 200 focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs) in the last quarter of 2020. As much as possible, this report attempts to organise the thoughts of the participants in accordance with the respective humanitarian sector to make it easier for humanitarian stakeholders to absorb and incorporate these findings. This report contains only a summary of the most relevant findings and trends, however. A more robust sector analysis and a deeper dive into the specific demographic groups can and should be conducted wherever relevant for various sectors and response stakeholders, and data collected in this study can be made available for this. Outside of sector-specific findings, this report also highlights cross-cutting trends related to the ways in which humanitarians engage, relate, and include the Rohingya in decision-making and response planning.
Although COVID-19 and the accompanying risk mitigation and containment measures further complicated the situation and, in many cases, worsened pre-existing issues, it is important to note that many of the findings are not new. The desire for increased self-reliance, greater inclusion and involvement in decision-making and delivery of assistance, and improved quality of experience when using services and collecting assistance raised during the FGDs and KIIs were reported by assessment and analysis actors as early as late 2017 and early 2018. The continued need to communicate this to responders indicates that these overarching issues and desires remain unaddressed. What this study does differently, however, is to focus on unpacking in-depth issues, problems, and solutions and, as much as possible, try to help bridge the gap between responders and Rohingya refugees.