UNHCR asks Myanmar again to create conditions for safe Rohingya return
Only 14% of the the $920 million - needed to combat the Rohingya refugee crisis in the south of the country – has been funded through the third joint response plan (JRP) so far, a senior UNHCR official said on Sunday, placing great emphasis on more responses from donors.
“Most of the JRPs are underfunded. Refugees do not receive the optimum fund. We have received so far 14% of the $920 million appealed for 2019. It is small funding,” said Khaled Khalifa, regional representative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), while responding to a question at a press conference held at a local hotel.
“We will be happy to see 100% funding this year,” he added.
The press conference was organized on the completion of a project titled “Mission to Bangladesh in Support of 2019 Joint Response Plan for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis” on March 21-25.
Representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), European Commission, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait took part in the mission with the aim of assessing the needs at the Rohingya camp and mobilization of resources.
About 69% of the $950-million donation appealed in the second JRP in 2018 was met, while in 2017, when the crisis began to unfold in August – with the exodus of Rohingyas into Bangladesh from Myanmar due to military persecution – around 64% of the $434-million target under first JRP was met.
The press conference was attended by Rashid M Khalikov, OCHA assistant secretary-general for humanitarian partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia; Androulla Kaminara, European Commission director of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific; Dr Salah Fahad Al Mazroa, assistant supervisor general of administration and finance of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre; and Adel Mohammaed Hayat, ambassador of Kuwait to Bangladesh, among others.
The dignitaries spoke at the press conference and replied to questions as regards to various aspects of the protracted Rohingya crisis.
The speakers were full of praise for Bangladesh, especially the host communities, for letting nearly 1.1 million Rohingyas – more than 700,000 of whom arrived during the latest exodus – despite constraints of resources, saying they would continue their efforts to manage maximum funding.
The speakers called upon the government of Myanmar to create conditions for voluntary, safe, secure and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homes in the Rakhine state, and assured that they would continue their endeavour so the plight of the persecuted community is not forgotten by the international community.
UNHCR official Khaled Khalifa also dismissed the allegations that much of the money coming in for the refugees was spent on “the lavish lifestyle and logistics” of the employees of different organizations working in the Rohingya’s aid.
“There is a lot of misperception about it. I invite you [the media] to see for yourself how they work in the field,” he added.
Responding to a question regarding Saudi Arabia sending Rohingyas to Bangladesh, Dr Al Mazroa of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre said his country had been hosting about 300,000 Rohingyas, and there has been “no deportation at all” to Bangladesh.
European Commission Director Kaminara laid emphasis on providing education to Rohingya children, and organizing income-generating activities for the adults which would not cause conflict with the members of the host communities.