UNHCR in US$84 million appeal for refugee crisis in Bangladesh
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urgently seeking US$83.7 million in additional funds for the next six months to help the more than half a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
According to latest estimates some 515,000 refugees have fled from Myanmar since 25 August, including people continuing to arrive this week. The emergency assistance is focused on refugee protection, shelter, water and sanitation and bolstering the capacity of the local host communities across south-east Bangladesh. Relieving dramatic overcrowding in the two existing camps – Kutupalong and Nyapara – which are now twice their population prior to the latest crisis – is also a priority, not least as refugee numbers are still growing.
Among the refugees are large numbers of children, many of them unaccompanied or separated from their families. More than half the new arrivals are women, including mothers with small children or infants. There are also many older people and people with disabilities. Illness, injuries and trauma as a result of extreme violence, torture and sexual abuse exacerbate the hardships. Many have lost family, relatives and friends. The new arrivals have joined an estimated 300,000 refugees who were already in Bangladesh before the crisis.
In light of the scope and speed of displacement UNHCR declared a “Level 3 Emergency” – the top level – for this crisis in mid-September.
From the outset, UNHCR has been supporting the response managed by the Bangladeshi authorities and all partners to help organise the effective delivery of aid and services for refugees. In addition to protection, shelter and sanitation work in south-east Bangladesh, we have so far organised five airlifts, flying in some 500 metric tonnes of aid. More flights are being planned. We have also doubled the number of our staff in Bangladesh to almost 100. We will continue to expand our work and operations, presence and staff throughout south-east Bangladesh as necessary.
UNHCR’s supplementary appeal is meant to meet urgent additional requirements from September 2017 through to February 2018. It is vital, even at this stage, that the response reflects mid- to long-term needs, while at the same time ensuring that voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity remains a viable option. We are grateful for the prompt and generous initial response both from the governments and private donors so far, contributing already US$ 24.1 million since the onset of the emergency.
Donors that have provided major support to the emergency include the United States, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and UNIQLO. Furthermore, the governments providing us with un-earmarked funding – Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and others – enabled us to kick-off the emergency response.
While addressing the urgent and immediate refugee needs in Bangladesh, UNHCR is concerned about the continuing influx from Myanmar and stresses once again the need for the root causes to be addressed. Delivery and improving conditions remains our utmost priority.
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