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10 October, 2018 12:41:08 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 October, 2018 10:35:42 AM

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Rohingya future threatened for ‘fund shortage’

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
Rohingya future threatened for ‘fund shortage’
This file photo taken on August 24 shows Myanmar border guard police watching over Rohingya refugees settlement in the ‘no man's land’ zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh border as seen from Maungdaw in Rakhine state. AFP photo

A leading United Nations official has warned that the international response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in south-eastern Bangladesh is severely underfunded, threatening the future of the persecuted people who had to flee their homes in Rakhine to escape the atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people belonging to other ethnic groups.

“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).

She made her comments 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 UK and the US visited the camps in Cox’s Bazar to gain first-hand knowledge of the critical issues faced by nearly one million Rohingyas.

“We are entering into the cyclone season which could be potentially devastating in the camps. This only adds to the enormous sense of uncertainty the refugees face about their future,” she added. The joint diplomatic mission met with local authorities, heads of UN Agencies, and national and international NGOs working on the response. As only 39 per cent of the response is 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. There are also concerns that funding for critical programs will end in February 2019, putting life saving services at risk. Without this critical funding, essential services may be pared back, compromising the health and wellbeing of this vulnerable population, 80% of whom are women and children.

Rohingya refugees are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance with 860,000 refugees dependent on food aid each month. The food security sector still requires US $66 million to support refugees through to March 2019.

The camps remain extremely congested which makes it difficult to relocate families currently living in landslide and flood risk areas. Most of the shelters have been hastily built on undulating and sandy terrain which is susceptible to landslide and flooding. Congestion also leads to protection, health water and sanitation concerns. Access to quality accredited education is a huge gap. 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.

“We need 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,” she said. 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. At the same time natural resources such as land and water have been in increasingly short supply. A number of projects, initiated by the humanitarian community have begun addressing environmental concerns and include both the refugee and host community families.

And, approximately one fourth of the target population under the Joint Response Plan, are the local host community. Long term support is required to assist the Bangladesh government to achieve a sustainable and beneficial use of resources for the refugee and host community population, the UN and aid agencies argue. At the same time a safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar should be urgently pursued, she added.

SR

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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