UNHCR calls for solution to Rohingya crisis

UNHCR calls for solution to Rohingya crisis

The UN Refugee Agency has called for solidarity, support and solutions for the Rohingya refugees ahead of an urgent donor conference tomorrow amid a shortfall in humanitarian assistance.

Together with the US, the UK and European Union, the UNHCR is co-hosting the virtual conference to meet urgent humanitarian needs of Rohingyas both inside and outside Myanmar. Support for critical services in host communities is also a priority.

The ongoing humanitarian response is facing a dramatic shortfall this year as less than half of the requested $1 billion funds for Rohingyas have been received so far, said UNHCR in a statement yesterday.

The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has added layers of new challenges and needs to an already complex and massive refugee emergency, it said.

Currently, 860,000 Rohingya refugees are living in settlements in Cox’s Bazar. Most of them, some 750,000, fled a brutal crackdown by Myanmar military 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 Rohingyas 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 UNHCR said.

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 Rohingyas living in crowded camps, reads the statement.

The UNHCR stressed that the international community and countries in the region must not only maintain support for refugees and their hosts, but also adapt to critical new needs and expand the search for solutions.

It said the focus of the search for solutions to this crisis must be on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

“The responsibility for creating conditions conducive to the safe and sustainable return of Rohingya rests with Myanmar authorities,” the UN Refugee Agency added.

This process will need to open and enhance the dialogue between Myanmar and Rohingyas and take measures that help build confidence and trust. These include lifting restrictions on freedom of movement, enabling displaced Rohingyas to return to their own villages and providing a clear pathway to citizenship.

Funds raised at the virtual donor conference will go to international 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 in Bangladesh.