• Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019
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WB announces $0.5bn support for Bangladesh to help Rohingyas

  • Published at 02:10 pm June 29th, 2018
  • Last updated at 04:57 pm June 29th, 2018
Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017 Reuters

The announcement comes ahead of the UN secretary-general, World Bank Group president’s visit

The World Bank has announced it will provide nearly half-a-billion dollars in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of the Rohingya refugees in areas such as: health, education, water and sanitation, disaster risk management, and social protection.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim praised Bangladesh for showing great leadership “in this evolving humanitarian crisis by providing refuge for the Rohingya people.”

“This grant allows the World Bank Group, working in collaboration with the Government of Canada, to support these efforts,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by the global lender.

“We are deeply moved by the suffering of the Rohingya people and stand ready to help them until they can return home in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner,” Kim said. 

“At the same time, we are also continuing to support the Bangladeshi people and the host communities, who have shown great generosity by welcoming these refugees.”

Reflecting the increasingly protracted nature of the Rohingya crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a $50 million additional grant to an existing Health Sector Support Project in Bangladesh that is the first in a series that could total as much as $480 million.

The health-sector grant includes contributions based on an innovative partnership between the Canadian government and the International Development Association. It will help the Rohingya people receive: maternal, neonatal, infant, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services—as well as reproductive health care and family planning support.

The statement highlighted that the healthcare needs of the Rohingya are vast; their vulnerability to outbreaks of disease and the prevalence of child malnutrition, are high. According to surveys conducted in the camps, one in every four children is acutely malnourished.

Seasonal rains, causing flooding and landslides, will have detrimental health impacts, including injuries, the exacerbation of water-borne diseases, and reduced access to health services. It is estimated that 200,000 people are at risk of landslides and floods during the monsoon season. 

More than 700,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since late August last year—after the Myanmar security forces launched a brutal offensive, targeting members of the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority. The influx has seen Cox’s Bazar turn into the world’s largest, and fastest- growing, refugee camp—putting pressure on the environment, infrastructure and social services.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said Bangladesh sheltered the Rohingya people fleeing violence in Myanmar “because it is the right thing to do for fellow human beings.” He noted that their needs are enormous and the world needs to step up its support.

 “The World Bank has been prompt in supporting us with a nearly half-a-billion dollar grant to help the Rohingya people with their safe, voluntary and dignified return to Myanmar. We are committed to addressing the basic needs of these unfortunate refugees,” he added.

World Bank Group President Kim, along with UN Secretary General António Guterres, will visit Bangladesh on July 1-2 to assess the severity of the crisis and discuss what more can be done.

They will visit the Rohingya settlements in Cox’s Bazar and meet: the prime minister, finance minister, other senior government officials, representatives of civil society and other partners.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development of Canada said they were pleased to partner with the World Bank, and Dhaka, in providing additional support for the displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh. 

“Through this innovative initiative, for every dollar contributed by Canada, five additional grant dollars will be unlocked in support of much needed health, nutrition and population services for the refugees,” she said.

The World Bank funding for Bangladesh to cope with the crisis will include up to $400 million, on grant terms, to support the Rohingya refugees from IDA18 Regional Sub-window for Refugees and Host Communities.