“Over the months since the outset of the Rohingya influx, this has been the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, with tens of thousands fleeing by land and sea from Myanmar daily at the peak of the emergency. Some 671,000 Rohingyas have arrived in Bangladesh since August, 25, 2017. The Bangladesh government and Bangladeshi people have responded with extraordinary generosity and hospitality,” a joint release of UNHCR and IOM said.
Almost seven months on, Rohingyas from Myanmar continue to arrive. And the situation in Cox’s Bazar remains fluid. The Kutupalong-Balukhali site, where some 600,000 Rohingyas are now living, is being termed today by different international agencies as the largest and most densely populated refugee settlement in the world.
More than 150,000 Rohingyas are in places at risk of landslides and floods, in what could become a disaster on top of the current emergency.
The 2018 appeal for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis – launched in Geneva by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, IOM Director General William Swing and UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo – aims to address these challenges, bringing together the critical efforts of more than 100 UN agencies and national and international NGOs.
The international humanitarian response aims to ensure refugees and host communities receive the life-saving assistance, protection and support they desperately need, complementing the continuing efforts of the Bangladeshi authorities.
“We are talking about truly critical needs here both on the part of the Bangladeshi communities who have so generously opened their doors, and of a stateless and refugee population that even prior to this crisis was among the world’s most marginalised and at risk,” said High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“The solutions to this crisis lie inside Myanmar, and conditions must be established that will allow refugees to return home. But today we are appealing for help with the immediate needs, and these needs are vast,” he added.
The appeal aims to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees and host communities, and support environmentally sustainable solutions, confidence-building and resilience of affected populations until the end of 2018. It also includes contingency planning for 80,000 more Rohingyas in the coming months.
The needs are urgent. The funding will help in meeting the life-saving and acute humanitarian needs both of refugees and of affected host communities. More than half the appeal (54 per cent) is to ensure food, water and sanitation, shelter and other basic aid. Food needs alone account for 25 per cent of the total.
“Obviously there is great appreciation for the generosity with which the response has been funded. But let’s not forget one thing: the biggest donor to this crisis is Bangladesh,” said Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.
“In terms of being the first responders, in terms of providing land, in terms of keeping its borders open, in terms of providing asylum, in terms of building roads, extending electricity networks, providing food, seconding civil servants, providing police and army to keep order in the camp. The biggest donor to this crisis continues to be the people and the government of Bangladesh,” she added.
The Rohingya situation in Cox’s Bazar is an acute humanitarian crisis that needs urgent funding to save lives and provide essential aid. So far, the emergency response from September 2017 to February 2018 has received 74 per cent of the funding needed (US$ 321 million of the US$ 434 million required).