United Nations aid agencies and NGO partners on Friday appealed to raise US$ 920 million to meet the massive needs of more than 900,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar and over 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in host communities.
They, together, launched the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP), the third joint humanitarian appeal and builds on achievements made thus far in Geneva in order to further stabilize the situation of Rohingyas and address the humanitarian crisis.
Critical aid and services such as food, water, sanitation and shelter represent more than half of the funding needs this year, said the UN refugee agency – UNHCR.
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, it said.
More than 745,000 Rohingya have fled from 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 International Organization for Migration Director General António Vitorino.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said their humanitarian imperative today is to stabilise the situation of stateless Rohingyas and their Bangladesh hosts. “We are hoping for timely, predictable and flexible contributions in order to meet the goals of this year’s appeal.”
He said but while they tackle these immediate humanitarian needs they must not lose sight of solutions.
Grandi repeated his 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 Rohingya refugees,” Grandi continued.
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.
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.
The prevalence of global acute malnutrition, at emergency levels in late 2017, has now dropped below the emergency threshold (from 19 per cent to 12 per cent), food security has improved, immunization coverage has grown to 89 per cent, and women delivering their babies in health facilities has risen from 22 per cent to 40 per cent.
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, UNHCR said, 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 Rohingyas 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, UNHCR said.
The 2018 JRP was funded at 69 per cent, or US$ 655 million received against US$ 950 million requested.