UNHCR calls for renewed support for Rohingyas

Diplomatic Correspondent

17 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has planned to seek US $943 million to meet the needs of more than 880,000 Rohingyas and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar district.

The UNHCR is set to launch its 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) tomorrow at a donor conference, spokesperson for the UNHCR Andrej Mahecic said in a press statement in Geneva on May 14. The 2021 JRP brings together the efforts of the government of Bangladesh, and 134 UN agencies and NGO partners to target almost 1.4 million people.

Ahead of the donor conference and launch of the 2021 JRP for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, UNHCR is calling for renewed international commitment, support and solidarity for Rohingyas.

With the Rohingya crisis in its fourth year, Bangladesh needs robust and sustained international support to ensure safety and wellbeing of stateless Rohingyas. This must not become a forgotten crisis. Both Rohingya population and Bangladesh, having generously hosted them for decades, must see the world standing with them, reads the statement.

Adding to the complexity of this crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded vulnerabilities for Rohingyas and host communities alike.

To date, the Government of Bangladesh, with the support of the humanitarian community, has effectively managed the Covid-19 response and the spread of the disease in the Rohingya camps and surrounding areas, though the trajectory of the virus remains unpredictable.

A coordinated and inclusive response has saved lives. However, it is critical to ensure the continued delivery of all humanitarian assistance and protection services.

The needs of Rohingyas reach beyond subsistence and physical safety. They, like any other people, cannot be allowed to wait for years without access to education and options for a decent life and a meaningful future.

In order to mitigate the risks of people taking dangerous onward journeys, more must be done to ensure that Rohingyas have hope in Bangladesh, and of a future back home in Myanmar. Otherwise, they may increasingly risk such journeys by land or sea to find a solution elsewhere.

Last year, the United Nations appealed for more than US$1 billion to meet the needs of the Rohingyas and host communities in Cox’s Bazar District. At the end of 2020, this appeal was just 59.4% funded.

“We stress that the international community must not only maintain support for Rohingyas and their hosts, but also adapt to new and emerging needs and pursue the search for durable solutions.”

The search for durable solutions must remain focused on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homes in Myanmar, when conditions allow them to do so.

However, the ongoing crisis and political instability in Myanmar have added new layers of complexity to this challenge.

Jointly co-hosted by the Government of Bangladesh, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the virtual 2021 JRP launching event will highlight the most immediate needs and ongoing humanitarian response.

The virtual 2021 JRP launching event is scheduled to run from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Bangladesh time.