Fund crunch puts Rohingyas in Bangladesh camps at risk

ISCG decries poor international response

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:05, Oct 10,2018 | Updated: 01:32, Oct 10,2018

 
 

People walk in a field in front of Bangladesh's Balukhali Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar. — AFP file photo

UN officials in Cox’s Bazar on Tuesday expressed concerns over sluggish international financial response on meeting urgent needs of the Rohingya people staying in makeshift shelters in Bangladesh.
‘It is crucial that we advocate at the highest level to the international community. The humanitarian response has been successful but remains severely underfunded,’ said Annika Sandlund, acting senior coordinator for the Rohingya refugee response and head of the Inter Sector Coordination Group, ISCG.
Only 39 percent of the response was funded, an additional USD 579 million ‘is required’ to meet the urgent needs of Rohingya refugees and the local host communities until the end of the year, she said.
She made the statement as a high-level delegation of ambassadors and senior representatives of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America visited the camps to gain first-hand knowledge of the critical issues faced by nearly one million refugees.
The joint diplomatic mission met with the local authorities, heads of UN Agencies, and national and international NGOs working on the response.
There were also concerns that funding for critical programs would end in February 2019, putting life saving services at risk, Annika said, adding that without this critical funding, essential services might be pared back, compromising the health and wellbeing of this vulnerable population, 80 per cent of whom are women and children.
Rohingya people were fully dependent on humanitarian assistance with 860,000 of them depending on food aid each month.
The food security sector ‘still requires US $66 million to support refugees through to March 2019’.
The hastily built camps remained extremely congested which makes it difficult to relocate families currently living in landslide and flood risk areas with concerns of protection, health water and sanitation.
Regarding access to quality accredited education there ‘is a huge gap,’ she said. ‘Approximately 55 per cent of pre-primary and primary learners and 98 per cent of adolescent still lack access to quality education.’
‘As the world faces protracted crises in many regions, the Rohingya refugees must remain at the forefront for the international community,’ Sandlund said, adding that international responders required to ensure that protection remains key to this response and that we have the resources available to focus on extremely vulnerable individuals, such as survivors of gender-based violence, the elderly and the chronically ill.
UN officials say there ‘is in addition an urgent need to support the host community’, who were among the first responders to the crisis by opening their homes to the refugees, sharing what little resources they had.
Approximately one fourth of the target population under the Joint Response Plan, are the local host community.
At the same time a safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar should be urgently pursued, Sandlund added. 

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