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UN, NGOs seek $920m to look after Rohingyas

  • Published at 10:42 pm February 15th, 2019
File photo: A group of Rohingya refugee people walk in the water after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Teknaf, Bangladesh Reuters

International community will keep its pledge, officials hope

The United Nations (UN) aid agencies and NGO partners have launched a third Joint Response Plan (JRP) in Geneva for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis for the year 2019.

The appeal seeks to raise $920 million to meet the massive needs of more than 900,000 refugees from Myanmar and over 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in host communities, according to a joint press release issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Welcoming the launching of the plan, officials of the government and NGOs told the Dhaka Tribune that they hope the international community will live up to its pledge and ensure the required money in entirety to continue supporting the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, who had crossed the border to escape unprecedented atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people from other ethnic groups in the Rakhine state.

They also reminded that aid-providing agencies did not get the full money in the first and second JRP.

Little over 64% of $434m under the first JRP in 2017 was made available while the second one for 2018 saw the availability of about 69% of $950m.  

“We are confident that the 2019 Joint Response Plan provides a solid framework to ensure protection, deliver assistance effectively and build community cohesion, as well as the foundation for collaboration, coordination and synergies within the humanitarian community, with development partners and with the Government of Bangladesh,” according to the forward of the JRP jointly signed by UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo, UNHCR Country Representative Steven Corliss and IOM Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam attended the launch with the chiefs of IOM and UNHCR.

UNHCR, IOM issue joint press release

The UNHCR and IOM have issued a joint press release about the about the fund required to look after the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

The press release read: “Critical aid and services such as food, water, sanitation and shelter represent more than half of the funding needs this year.

“Other key sectors of the appeal include health, site management, protection activities including child protection and addressing sexual and gender-based violence, education and nutrition.”

More than 745,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August 2017, escaping violence in Myanmar and joining roughly 200,000 others already displaced in the Cox’s Bazar area by previous cycles of violence.

With the generosity and support of the Bangladeshi authorities and local communities, who were the first to respond to the emergency, critical needs were met and many lives were saved.

“The solidarity shown by the Government of Bangladesh and the commitment of humanitarian partners ensured the successful implementation of the first Joint Response Plan in 2018. Moving forward, we reiterate our commitment to meeting the dire needs of this population and urge the international community to support these efforts,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

UNHCR chief urges Myanmar to address root causes to ensure safe Rohingya return

UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi has urged Myanmar to address the root causes in orders to ensure the safe return of the Rohingyas.

He said: “Our humanitarian imperative today is to stabilize the situation of stateless Rohingya refugees and their Bangladesh host. We are hoping for timely, predictable and flexible contributions in order to meet the goals of this year’s appeal.”

“But while we tackle these immediate humanitarian needs we must not lose sight of solutions. I repeat my call to Myanmar to take urgent action to address the root causes of this crisis which have persisted for decades, so that people are no longer forced to flee and can eventually return home in safety and dignity.

“We encourage countries in this region and beyond to show solidarity with Bangladesh and to support Myanmar to start creating conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya refugees,” he said.

The new JRP sets out a comprehensive humanitarian effort shaped around three strategic objectives. By bringing together 132 partners - UN agencies, international and national NGOs and government bodies in a collective effort – the Plan aims to deliver protection to refugee women, men, girls and boys, provide life saving assistance and foster social cohesion.

The 2019 JRP is the third joint humanitarian appeal and builds on achievements made thus far in order to further stabilize the situation of the Rohingya refugees.

Over the past 12 months aid agencies have worked to improve the conditions across refugee settlements through the support provided under the 2018 JRP providing basic assistance, upgrading living conditions in the camps and putting in place disaster risk mitigation measures for monsoon and cyclone seasons.

The environmental impact of the influx has been reduced, through efforts such as reducing the demand for firewood through provision of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as an alternative cooking and heating fuel.

Significant improvements yet more support needed

The prevalence of acute global malnutrition, at emergency levels in late 2017, has now dropped below the emergency threshold (from 19% to 12%), food security has improved, immunization coverage has grown to 89%, and women delivering their babies in health facilities have risen from 22% to 40%.

Despite these and other achievements, the Rohingya remain in an extremely precarious situation, highlighting the importance of sustained support.  

Until the root causes of displacement in Myanmar are addressed and refugees are able to voluntarily return in safety and dignity, support must be provided to the Bangladeshi authorities to meet the needs of refugees and the host communities.

For example, the entire refugee population received basic emergency shelter kits to help them cope with the rainy season in 2018, but safer and more robust shelters are now required.

Around 860,000 refugees regularly receive food assistance, yet only 240,000 are able to diversify their diet beyond the minimum package of rice, lentils and oil.

These resources must be expanded to ensure their nutrition and health. Similarly, continued investments into safe water and sanitation, health and protection services are vital.