• Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019
  • Last Update : 10:53 pm

Situation may worsen without more funding for Rohingyas, warns WFP

  • Published at 12:54 am September 15th, 2019
WEB_-Rohingya-Mahmud-Hossain-Opu_MHO1547
Distressed rohngya women and children at a camp in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu

At a regular briefing in Geneva on Friday, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel explained that it costs the food-assistance branch of the global body $16 million every month to feed almost 900,000 Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar

The World Food Programme (WFP), the food-assistance branch of the United Nations, has warned that the situation in regards to feeding hundreds of Rohingyas sheltered in Cox’s Bazar could deteriorate ‘rapidly’ if the adequate funding is not made available.

Against the backdrop of heavy monsoon rains that battered the southern part of the country, including Rohingya settlements, the WFP has launched its biggest emergency response of the year for the persecuted people, it said.

At a regular briefing in Geneva on Friday, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel explained that it costs the food-assistance branch of the global body $16 million every month to feed almost 900,000 Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.

Appealing for the fund, he said that for the time being, the agency has supplies prepositioned at strategic locations around the camps which can be distributed quickly, according to the website of the UN news.

“But without the continued support of the international community, their situation could deteriorate rapidly”, said Verhoosel.

Meanwhile, only 37.8 percent of $ 920 million appealed under the joint response plan (JRP), 2019 has so far been met, according to the financial tracking system of the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Of that, funding for food security stands at 35.8 per cent, health 17.3 per cent and nutrition at 34.7 per cent as of yesterday. 

Unusually heavy monsoon rains have inundated shelters in refugee camps in southern Bangladesh creating “havoc”, as the WFP launched its biggest emergency response of the year for displaced Rohingya families, said the WFP spokesperson.

He said that 16,000 people had received food assistance in just 24 hours - more than all those reached since the monsoon season began in June.

The flooding was “much bigger” than usual, said the WFP official, adding that the area of Teknaf was worst-affected, thanks to record rainfall this week.

Relaying information from colleagues in Cox’s Bazar- a district which hosts a series of camps that have been home to hundreds of thousands of mainly Rohingyas, since they fled a military operation led by the Myanmar military in the summer of 2017 –Verhoosel said that some families had lost everything.

He said host communities have also been badly affected with more than 800 people, temporarily displaced by flooding, requiring food assistance.

“All that was in the house was washed away; what they use as a bed or what they use to cook, or everything (altogether[1]) was lost,” said the WFP official. 

“They have nothing to cook (with), they have nothing to sleep (on)... most of the clothes have been lost. The little things that they’ve rebuilt since they arrived in the camp were lost in one night of rain.”

In recent years,the country has also had more erratic monsoons and downpours as a result of climate change, which WFP has sought to counter, by planting 100,000 trees in the camps and host communities to mitigate landslides and flooding.

Also, engineering and disaster risk reduction work have been ongoing for more than a year and the camps “are significantly safer than they were earlier”, Verhoosel said, citing slope stabilization works and better road and drainage systems.

One of the problems Bangladesh faces is that it is a low-lying country which is prone to flooding during the monsoon season, which usually lasts until October.