Aid providers have raised concern over slow and inadequate funding for Rohingya crisis as about two-thirds of international funding appealed by the United Nations in March for assisting the forcibly displaced ethnic minorities till December is still unmet.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs financial tracking service till Sunday, $319 million funding was received which was 33.6 per cent of $951 million requested by the United Nations.
Without urgent funding, vulnerable Rohingya families will be deprived of essential financial and food assistance, children will not have access to education, urgent medical needs will not be addressed, livelihood opportunities will not be created, responses to violence and exploitation will be scaled-back, and access to basic water and sanitation services will be reduced, aid workers said.
Officials of Inter Sector Coordination Group, a combine of UN agencies and international humanitarian groups operating in Rohingya crisis in Cox’s Bazar, said that with another cyclone season, huge funding gaps remained for programmes that might prevent loss of lives.
‘Just one-third funding has been secured for the overall refugee response, putting the Rohingyas at risk once again,’ coordination group spokesperson Nayana Bose said.
‘In an emergency of this scale, funding shortages are putting vital services under threat,’ she said.
She made the comments when the plight of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who entered Bangladesh fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar remained miserable a year after the latest round of influx since August 2017.
They continued to live in squalor, in crammed shelters, with health and sanitation facilities far below than what were needed.
Since August 25, 2017, more than 7.20 lakh ethnic minority Rohingyas, fleeing violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, had found shelter and safety in Cox’s Bazar. They joined an estimated 4 lakh Rohingyas from previous waves of influx fuelled by intimidation by Myanmar government and army since 1978.
The United Nations in March while launching the joint response plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis appealed for $951 million to assist Rohingyas in Bangladesh and host community members till December. One-fourth of the $951 million was for host communities in Cox’s Bazar.
The appeal for $951 million was launched to assist 13 lakh people including 8,84,000 Rohingyas and 3,36,000 host community members until December.
The appeal included contingency planning for an estimated 80,000 more Rohingyas.
A coordination group statement on Saturday said that education sector was underfunded by 71 per cent of required $47 million. Access to quality education remained a critical unmet need, particularly for youth and adolescents. About 55 per cent of pre-primary and primary learners of 3-14 years and 98 per cent of youth and adolescents 15-24 years lacked access to relevant quality education.
Food security sector was underfunded by 62.5 per cent of required $240 million.
‘Food remains a critical need, with more than 8,66,000 Rohingyas dependent on monthly distributions of food aid,’ the statement said.
Across all sectors, including protection, shelter, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, services remain elementary, and far below international accepted standards, it said.
The health sector was underfunded by 80.75 per cent of required $113 million.
In health sector, service provision has progressed in 2017 but life-threatening health care deficits due largely to limited funding pose serious life-threatening risks. Failure to urgently implement a quality, minimal package of essential health services may cause a significantly high number of preventable deaths and diseases in women and new born from poorly managed pregnancies; in children from vaccine-preventable illnesses; from outbreaks of water and vector-borne diseases and others, said the statement.
‘We need generous and continued support of our partners. It is important that the Rohingya people do not suffer anymore. We need to find sustainable ways of meeting their needs for health, water, sanitation, education, and livelihood,’ WHO representative to Bangladesh Bardan Jang Rana said.
‘The achievements of the past year have been remarkable,’ International Organisation for Migration chief of mission in Bangladesh Giorgi Gigauri said.
Rohingya crisis is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world and the challenges have been immense. Countless lives have been saved thanks to the generosity of the government of Bangladesh, the local community and donors, and the hard work of all those involved in the humanitarian response, he said.
‘But we now face the very real threat that if more funding is not urgently secured, lives will once again be at risk,’ he said.