IRI Bangladesh Poll Shows Hostility Toward Rohingya Refugees, Concerns About Violence, Bleak Jobs Picture

Dhaka, Bangladesh – A new poll conducted by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) within communities in the immediate vicinity of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar found hostility toward the refugees, concerns about inter-community violence, and a bleak jobs picture.

Relations between the Bangladeshi host community and Rohingya refugees are not viewed positively by a strong majority of people who live close by. When asked how life has changed since the arrival of the Rohingya, 70% said their lives have “worsened.” Sixty percent of respondents rated the level of violence between Bangladeshis and refugees as “high” or “medium.” These data points show a dynamic of misunderstanding and hostility in Cox’s Bazar that has taken hold since the newest arrival of Rohingya refugees in August 2017.

“There is no doubt that Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugee communities alike face significant humanitarian and governance challenges in Cox’s Bazar,” said Johanna Kao, IRI Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific. “Our data clearly demonstrates that most Bangladeshis are increasingly mistrustful of Rohingya refugees and seek a sustainable solution to the situation. The Bangladesh government and international community need to address hardships among both Bangladeshis and refugees.”

The survey also highlights concerns about personal security. Sixty-seven percent of residents in the surveyed communities who feel unsafe in their local area feel most threatened by miscreants, gangs, trafficking, and smuggling groups. Seventy-four percent either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” with the statement that problems in Bangladesh cannot be solved through peaceful means.

“The threat of violence is a major concern for many people in Bangladesh,” said Kao. “More must be done to allay the people’s fears and support harmony across different communities.”

On issues related to the local economy, the poll shows a bleak jobs picture. When asked how they would rate the overall availability of jobs or employment, 92% said “unavailable” or “not easily available.”

Methodology The survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by Innovative Research and Consultancy (IRC) between December 4th and December 22nd, 2021. Data was collected through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) administered face-to-face interviews at respondents’ homes. The sample consists of n=1,050 respondents aged 18 and older in Nhilla Union and Whykong Union, located in Teknaf Upazilla of Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh (upazilas and unions are sub-district administrative units in Bangladesh). Within Nhilla and Whykong unions, villages were selected as the primary sampling units via probability proportionate to size (PPS). Across selected villages, interviews were distributed proportionally according to population size and proximity to Camp 21 and Camp 26. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 3.0 percent for the full sample, and the response rate was 88%. 

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