To date, the EU has contributed €24.8 million
The European Union (EU) has announced a fund of €18 million (nearly Tk171.5 crore) to help improve resilience among both the Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi host communities in Cox's Bazar.
Over 288,000 children and families of both the communities will be benefited as a part of the EU-supported United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) program, titled “Building Rohingya Refugee and Host Community Resilience.”
Rensje Teerink, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh, made the announcement during an event held at a hotel in Dhaka on Thursday.
Teerink said the funding would help to improve resilience among the Rohingya refugees as well as the local host communities in Cox’s Bazar, the district along Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
The project, which was launched in January this year and is expected to end by 2021, is focused on four key areas of nutrition: water, sanitation and hygiene, education, and child protection.
The host communities and the forcibly displaced Rohingyas will equally share the benefits of the project, which especially prioritizes women having children.
“We need to act decisively to secure a better future for all who were affected by the refugee crisis. With this strategic support, we aim to ensure continuity between humanitarian and development actions for the Rohingyas and Bangladeshi communities,” she said.
“We shall tackle the underlying issues to improve access to water, education, child protection and food and nutrition security in Cox’s Bazar. Our aim is to strengthen local development efforts and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the future.”
“The support from the EU allows us to address the issue of resilience in a holistic manner, integrating and harmonizing services for the delivery of better results for Rohingya and Bangladeshi children, adolescents and families,” Tomoo Hozumi, Unicef representative in Bangladesh, said.
“At the same time, the situation remains critical with 1.2 million people [Rohingyas] requiring humanitarian assistance in one of Bangladesh’s poorest and most vulnerable districts.”
The EU will fund the lion’s share of the project – €15 million, or about Tk143 crore – while Unicef will contribute the rest of the fund.
Home to some 2.3 million people, Cox’s Bazar is one of the most vulnerable districts to natural disasters in Bangladesh, including cyclones, flooding and landslides caused by monsoon rains, and the impact of climate change.
Around 33% people in the coastal district live below the poverty line, where education indicators are among the lowest in the country with the primary school completion rate standing at 55%. More than half of the girls are married off before the age of 18, and close to 50,000 children are engaged in child labour.
The district records very high rates of malnutrition. One in every two children suffers from stunting due to poor maternal nutrition, and the lack of adequate infant feeding and care practices.