Easterntimes, Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 20 October: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has stressed that the international community and countries in the region must redouble their efforts not only maintain support for Rohingyas and their hosts, but also adapt to critical new needs and expand the search for solutions.
The focus of the search for solutions to this crisis must be on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas and other displaced people to their homes or to a place of their choosing in Myanmar, said the UN Refugee Agency on Tuesday.
On the eve of this week’s donor conference for Rohingya refugees, UNHCR stressed the need for stronger international support and a redoubling of efforts to find solutions for this stateless and displaced population.
Together with the United States, United Kingdom and European Union, UNHCR is co-hosting a virtual donor conference on Thursday to meet urgent humanitarian needs of forcibly displaced Rohingya both inside and outside Myanmar.
The responsibility for creating conditions conducive to the safe and sustainable return of Rohingya rests with Myanmar authorities, UNHCR said.
It said the process will need to engage the whole of society, open and enhance the dialogue between the Myanmar authorities and Rohingya refugees and take measures that help build confidence and trust.
These include lifting restrictions on freedom of movement, enabling displaced Rohingya to return to their own villages and providing a clear pathway to citizenship, it said.
Support for critical services in host communities is also a priority, UNHCR said.
The ongoing humanitarian response is facing a dramatic shortfall this year as less than half of the requested funds have been received so far.
In 2020, the United Nations has appealed for more than US$ 1 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has added layers of new challenges and needs to an already complex and massive refugee emergency.
Over 1.1 million Rohingyas are living in settlements across Cox’s Bazar district.
Most of them, some 740,000, fled from Myanmar during the most recent displacement crisis in 2017.
Other countries in the region host some 150,000 Rohingya refugees.
An estimated 600,000 live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Across the entire region, most Rohingya live on the margins of society and they need to be assured access to basic healthcare, clean drinking water, a reliable food supply, or meaningful work and educational opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened their living conditions, made access to services even more challenging, increased the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and exacerbated the impacts of infectious diseases for displaced Rohingya living in crowded camps, such as those in Cox’s Bazar and in Rakhine State.
Funds raised at the conference will go to international organisations and non-governmental organisations working to alleviate the crisis on the ground in Myanmar, throughout the region, and towards the UN-led Joint Response Plan (JRP) in Bangladesh.