UN plans to raise $920m for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Geneva: The UN refugee agency on Friday said it would raise $920 million in a new plan to aid 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.

Over half of the solicited money, also meant to assist 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshi hosts, is needed to meet the basic needs such as food, water, sanitation and shelter of the refugees who have fled from Myanmar to the neighboring country since 2017.

The rest of the fund will be utilized to finance programmes related to education, health and the protection of women and children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“Our humanitarian imperative today is to stabilize the situation of stateless Rohingya refugees and their Bangladesh hosts. We are hoping for timely, predictable and flexible contributions in order to meet the goals of this year’s appeal,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi was quoted as saying by Efe news.

The UNHCR in a statement said that the 2019 Joint Response Plan 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,” it said.

IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino said that the UN agencies were reiterating “our commitment to meeting the dire needs of this population and urge the international community to support these efforts”.

More than 745,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017, while 200,000 members of the community had earlier escaped to Bangladesh.

Most of the refugees live under harsh conditions in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area near the Myanmar border, which has become the biggest refugee camp in the world.

“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,” Grandi said.

Last year, the Joint Response Plan could raise just $655 million against a target of $950 million.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingyas, a mostly Muslim minority, as its citizens and considers them Bangladeshi immigrants.