An update to the UN response plan was released on Wednesday, seeking $430 million which is urgently needed to scale up the relief operations in support of the Rohingyas and the host communities where they are seeking shelter.
In support of this, an additional US$12 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been allocated to assist in the establishment of new sites for the newly arrived Rohingyas.
The human tragedy unfolding in Cox’s Bazar is staggering in its scale, complexity and rapidity as in just the past few weeks, well over half a million Rohingyas have crossed the border, making this the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.
The total amount of land now occupied by Rohingyas is 9.6 million square metres, said Unicef. This is equivalent to 889 football fields.
“We leave Bangladesh moved by the stories of sufferings that we heard from Rohingyas fleeing the violence in Myanmar – and all the more determined that the United Nations do all it can to assist the government of Bangladesh in coping with this crisis,” said two top UN officials.
Emergency Relief Coordinator and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake made the observation in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
They said people arrive fearful, exhausted and hungry, and in desperate need of immediate help, including shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, and healthcare.
They bring with them terrible accounts of what they have seen and suffered -- stories of children being killed, women brutalised, and villages burned to the ground.
The government and people of Bangladesh have demonstrated an ‘extraordinary spirit of generosity’ by opening the country’s borders and leading the efforts to provide relief to the Rohingyas. They have provided the world an inspiring example of humanity.
“We were impressed in the camps and settlements we visited by the progress being made to assist the Rohingyas,” said Lowcock and Lake in their statement.
The Rohingyas are living in flimsy bamboo and plastic shacks in the sprawling and densely-crowded sites that have sprung up to accommodate them.
In these conditions, there is an ever-growing risk for an outbreak of disease. There are also numerous challenges for the response, including limited road access to the dispersed refugee populations, a population that is still moving and a lack of land for shelter and infrastructure.
“Beyond these impediments, we face an urgent need for the resources that will allow us to continue to ramp up and sustain our efforts,” reads the statement.
They said funding is urgently needed so that all Rohingyas have access to food, shelter, water, sanitation facilities, health care and protective services.
“Without a significant increase in assistance, the Rohingyas, who have suffered so much already, could face another catastrophe on top of the tragedies that caused them to flee their homes,” the statement reads.
They said unfortunately, this appalling situation is not over and people are still crossing from Myanmar into Bangladesh, fleeing for their lives and requiring immediate support.
“We call again on the Myanmar authorities to allow the full resumption of humanitarian action across all of Rakhine state, and will continue to advocate for conditions to be created that allow for people to safely, securely and voluntarily go home.”
Up to 60 per cent of the new arrivals are children, and 30 per cent are children under five years old. Seven per cent are infants under one year old.
Three percent of the newly arrived Rohingyas are pregnant, and 7 per cent are breastfeeding women.
Up to one in five refugee households are headed by women, and 5 per cent by children.
Up to 90 per cent of new arrivals have reported eating just one meal a day. Food security and malnutrition rates were alarmingly high even before the influx of new arrivals.
In Balukhali settlement, rates of malnutrition were already above emergency thresholds. It is estimated that one out of five children under the age of five suffers from acute malnutrition.
More than 1,600 unaccompanied and separated children have been identified and are being provided with support. Over 200,000 newly arrived Rohingya children need access to education.
Over half the Rohingyas are living in sites with no access to healthcare; and 30 per cent have no access to water.
Last week, at least 4,790 cases of diarrhoea have been reported. WHO has warned of the potential for an outbreak of cholera.