2020 marks the third year of exile for most Rohingyas in Bangladesh
The United Nations agencies and NGO partners launched the 2020 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis on Tuesday.
Building on the efforts and success of previous years, the appeal aims to raise $877 million to respond to the needs of approximately 855,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, and over 444,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities generously hosting them, according to a joint press statement issued by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva.
Vital services and assistance including access to food, shelter, clean water and sanitation require urgent funding and 55% of the overall appeal, with food needs alone accounting for almost 29%.
Health, protection, education, site management, energy and environment continue to be critical to ensuring the safety and dignity of Rohingya people and the well-being of local Bangladeshis.
The 2019 JRP was funded at just over 70%, or $650 million received against $921 million requested.
The government and the people of Bangladesh have shown immense solidarity in welcoming the persecuted Rohingya people from Rakhine state.
Fostering peaceful coexistence between communities and invigorating the local economy are imperative as this crisis continues.
‘World must stand by the Rohingya’
2020 marks the third year of exile for most Rohingyas in Bangladesh, following their flight from Myanmar in 2017.
The Rohingyas are clear that they want to go home, but only when they and their families will be safe, when they have access to basic rights and services and see a pathway to citizenship in Myanmar.
"Support of the 2020 Joint Response Plan is essential to safeguarding the well-being of Rohingya refugees – both now in Bangladesh and once it is safe and sustainable for them to return home to Myanmar," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
"Until then, the world must stand by the Rohingya and by the government and people of Bangladesh, who continue to host them. Most important will be engaging refugees and hearing their voices and understanding their hopes and vision for the future," he said.
The 2020 JRP places a clearer and stronger emphasis on areas that have most impacted host communities, including public service infrastructure and delivery, access to sustainable livelihoods, rehabilitation of the environment and energy initiatives.
“From the moment the international community responded to the crisis in August 2017, we committed ourselves to a long-term investment working with the government to create sustainable, dignified living arrangements for all until such time as they could safely return home, and to provide meaningful support to host communities,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
"The 2020 JRP's focus on infrastructure, livelihoods, protection and the environment are extensions of the work completed to date," he said.
The JRP's strategic objectives include strengthening protection for Rohingya women, men, girls and boys, delivering life-saving assistance to those in need, fostering the well-being of affected Bangladeshi communities, and working towards sustainable solutions in Myanmar.
The objectives are closely aligned with the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the statement said.
Following the launch of the 2020 JRP, Save the Children, one of the international NGOs working for the welfare of Rohingya children at the camps in Cox’s Bazar, issued a statement on Tuesday, urging the UN Security Council to put more pressure on Myanmar to create a safe home for the Rohingyas to return to.
“Three years on, the international community must work to ensure that Rohingya refugee children can see a future outside of the camps of Cox’s Bazar,” Athena Rayburn, senior humanitarian advocacy manager of Save the Children in Cox’s Bazar, said in the statement.
“Children from the host community have also been affected; their lives turned upside down since the influx of over 740,000 Rohingya over two and a half years ago. All are at greater risk of child labour, trafficking, abuse, exploitation and violence.
“Save the Children urges the UN Security Council to double efforts to engage Myanmar in order to swiftly create the conditions necessary for the safe, sustainable and voluntary return of the Rohingya. We must not allow Rohingya children to become a lost generation,” she added.
Myanmar school curriculum for Rohingya refugee children
The 2020 JRP will also allow humanitarian partners to seize the important opportunity offered by the Bangladesh government's decision in January to authorize the use of Myanmar school curriculum for Rohingya refugee children.
A pilot phase will be implemented soon, targeting 10,000 children in grades 6 to 9, with plans to scale up currently under development.
Rohingya parents and children alike have sought access to education in the Myanmar curriculum, which they see as crucial to prepare for return and reintegration in Myanmar, when this is possible.
Through the 2020 JRP, the government and humanitarian community will build upon solid work and lessons learned over the past two years in emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction efforts. response.
The progress and achievements since the first day of the massive Rohingya influx are remarkable, but strong international solidarity and funding support for the refugees and Bangladeshi communities will be essential to help the Bangladesh government and humanitarian partners to continue meeting the challenges until Rohingya refugees can return home voluntarily in safety and dignity.