Top officials of BRAC on Sunday urged all humanitarian agencies working on Rohingya issue to prioritise the needs of the local people.
At a briefing at BRAC Centre Auditorium in Dhaka marking one-year since the beginning of the latest Rohingya influx, the NGO also urged donors to come forward fast with adequate funding for smooth relief activities.
BRAC also announced the launching of an international communication campaign titled #SpaceOnEarth to help strengthen global support for Rohingyas, especially children.
Ongoing international actions to support the Rohingyas who took shelter in
Cox’s Bazar fleeing persecution in Myanmar needed to be stronger to ensure a safe and meaningful future for the Rohingyas, including more than 500,000 children, said the BRAC officials.
Since August 25, 2017, more than 7.25 lakh ethnic minority Rohingyas, fleeing violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have 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.
In addition humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas all aid providers should prioritise needs of the local people who hosted so many Myanmar ethnic minority people, said BRAC executive director Muhammad Musa.
Everyone should put importance on the livelihood of local people as the issue remained underdressed, he said.
‘There is a possibility of conflict between host communities and refugees and you should mitigate and address this,’ Musa said.
Musa said that local people were sensitive to Rohingyas but their attitude changed with time as they were affected by the Rohingya crisis.
According to a BRAC study in December 2017, about 73 per cent people said that hosting Rohingyas was a good decision, but similar study along with Harvard University in April 2018 found percentage of such people coming down to 30 per cent.
There are so many reasons for the change of attitude of local people, including deforestation, skyrocketing price of essentials and pollution of water, caused by the Rohingya crisis, Musa said.
Musa also called international communities to come forward for funding for dealing with Rohingya crisis. He said that current funding flow was negatively impacting on relief and assistance.
He said that due to problem of funding BRAC closed down 20 of the 50 outreach health clinics and was facing problem in running 11 clinics. BRAC has a plan to set up 780 learning centres for Rohingyas but it has set up 250 so far.
There are possibilities of prolonging of Rohingya crisis, said Musa, adding that it would be unfair to leave the crisis only on Bangladesh.
More humanitarian assistance should come. International communities should come forward with more funding, he added.
‘Repatriation process of Rohingyas is a political and complex issue, we want speedy repatriation,’ he said.
It is Myanmar’s liabilities to create condition in Rakhine conducive to repatriation.
‘Currently we do not see any condition in Rakhine State conducive to safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation [of Rohingyas]’ he said.
BRAC director KAM Morshed said that many people were talking about strengthening diplomatic efforts on Rohingya issue. He quoted an unpublished study that found that that 84 per cent Bangladeshis wanted more diplomatic efforts on Rohingya issue.
Until now, more than 45,000 children have been registered in BRAC’s child-friendly spaces for Rohingyas. It provided consultation to over 1.1 million people and nearly 150,000 people were now living in shelters built by BRAC.
BRAC directors Akramul Islam, Moutushi Kabir also talked at the programme.