HomeLatest NewsBangladesh warns of deepening Rohingya crisis as refugee aid nosedives

Bangladesh warns of deepening Rohingya crisis as refugee aid nosedives

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DHAKA: Bangladesh warned on Tuesday of the deteriorating humanitarian crisis at its refugee camps hosting some 1 million Rohingya, as global aid for the oppressed stateless minority has sharply declined this year.

The Joint Response Plan, the annual UN fundraising plan by international agencies, was among the best funded humanitarian responses when it was set up in 2017, after a military crackdown forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee persecution in Myanmar.

Data released by the UN Refugee Agency last week showed that in 2023 the plan received only 50 percent of the $876 million needed to provide essential assistance to those sheltering in Bangladesh.

“It’s a very sharp decrease in the Joint Response Plan. This is the first time that we witnessed such a low response. In the previous years it was around 70 percent, sometimes more,” Bangladeshi Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mizanur Rahman told Arab News.

“It has been impacting the Rohingya. The fund crisis affects their food, medical facilities, education and overall living conditions.”

The drop comes at a time when the World Food Programme earlier this year reduced food assistance to the Rohingya by 33 percent, to $8 a month per person, despite malnutrition being already widespread in the Cox’s Bazar camps.

Rahman said the deteriorating conditions will also affect security and increase the likelihood of human trafficking as people try to flee hunger and hopelessness in refugee settlements.

“The law and order situation inside the camps will deteriorate. It will increase the threat of more and more human trafficking … it will trigger desperate attempts to leave the camps,” he said.

This year, the UN recorded at least 3,722 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, making desperate attempts to flee Bangladeshi camps by boat across the Andaman Sea — an increase from 3,705 last year.

Although Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, its government says it spends an estimated $1.2 billion annually to support the Rohingya and provides not only land, but also water, electricity, a huge law enforcement presence, as well as medical and administrative officials.

“We want the donor communities, especially the US, EU and other rich countries who have been assisting the Rohingya in previous years to continue their support,” Rahman said.

“I also request Gulf countries to stand beside this stateless Muslim population.” AFP

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