Rohingya Crisis: UN seeks $943m in assistance
At a donor conference in Geneva, the UN has sought $943m for the Rohingyas and host community in Cox’s Bazar.
UNHCR Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said, “The $943m plan seeks to meet the needs of more than 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar.”
He made the statement at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.
However, no clear-cut decision of the UN’s engagement in Bhashanchar was made in the Joint Response Plan (JRP) 2021.
The UNHCR spokesperson said Bangladesh needed robust and sustained international support to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Rohingya refugees.
Mahecic said it must not become a forgotten crisis. Both Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh, having generously hosted them for decades, must see the world standing with the Rohingyas whose vulnerabilities have heightened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most of the nearly a million Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017.
Since late last year, the Bangladesh government relocated some 18,000 Rohingyas to Bhashanchar, where the government built a housing project for 100,000 Rohingyas.
So far, over 40 NGOs have been providing humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas in Bhashanchar, but the government has been seeking UN funding.
Foreign ambassadors and a UN delegation, following visits to Bhashanchar, appreciated its strong infrastructure but, the JRP has not made any announcement of funding for Bhashanchar.
“The JRP says that the funding can be done if Bangladesh government, donors and UN agree on certain issues, including protection, education etc,” said a UN official.
Meanwhile, local NGOs have demanded aid transparency and efficiency in the Rohingya crisis management and involving local government and local NGOs in implementing the projects. The UN and international aid agencies should play technical assistance and monitoring roles, they said.
At a press conference organised by the Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF), they said that the Rohingya crisis appears to be protracted, and funding in the future may dwindle.
Therefore, it is high time that the government takes measures to ensure aid efficiency and better coordinate the crisis management.
Mohammed Arifur Rahman, chief executive of Young Power in Social Action, said a study by CCNF in October last year found that per Rohingya family in Cox’s Bazar is supposed to get $428, but they get only $132.
“This means the overhead cost of the international aid agencies is very high,” he said, adding that local NGOs get only four percent of the aid coming for the Rohingyas.
CCNF Co-chair Abu Moreshed Chowdhury said a single authority comprising Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, the UN, and Cox’s Bazar DC should supervise the refugee management activities.
“Now, we don’t know the details of the sectors where the fund is used. All should be accountable,” he said.
Mukti Executive Director Bimal Dey Sarker said the UN has prepared the Localization Task Force in 2019 to prepare a localisation road map, but it has not been made public yet.
“Following the international obligations, we want localization at the quickest possible time.”
COAST Executive Director Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said during the preparation of JRP, they provided written comments and organised a webinar where local MPs, local government, and the UN representatives took part.
“But opinions of the locals have a little reflection in the document,” he said.