While Bangladesh needs more in terms of money and material help for the Rohingya refugees, that is but a temporary palliative that will do very little to redress the distress of Bangladesh or solve the problems for the Rohingyas. We deem it necessary to reiterate the timely and very appropriate call of our prime minister to the UN, and to the international community under the auspices of the UN, to assume a stronger position in dealing with and evolving a permanent solution to one of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster of this century. The prime minister’s call underpins the very fundamental issue of the problem. And the longer it takes to get the Myanmar government to accept a solution, just and equitable to the Rohingyas, the more will the issue become resistant to resolution. And the longer the Rohingyas stay in Bangladesh in the current circumstances, the sufferings of all the parties will multiply.
Thus, while we thank the UN and the international community for pledging USD 597 million in humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas in the region we all know it falls far short of the USD 1 billion needed. Apart from increasing the aid amount, what we feel is equally imperative is that the UN should do more than what it has done so far to bring about a permanent solution to the crisis. No amount of money can lessen the tremendous long-term impact created by the presence of nearly a million Rohingya refugees on our soil for more than three years.
The Rohingya issue has exerted tremendous strain on the country’s economy, its social cohesion, ecology and security. The Rohingyas have fallen victims of human traffickers; become partners of narcotics and illegal weapon traders; the area is now a handy recruiting ground for religious and political extremists, and they have become a political tool of local politicians—being used as vote banks. Bangladesh is being pressured to issue passports to thousands of Rohingyas who have managed to travel to the Mideast. The corrupt and immoral government functionaries have reaped a healthy harvest by issuing them Bangladeshi NID cards and passports. For a country heavily encumbered by the pandemic and its economic consequences, the situation is becoming untenable.
UNHCR appeals for solidarity as it hosts with the US, UK and the EU a donor conference aimed at closing a ‘significant funding gap’.
Less than half the $1bn in aid meant for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh this year has been raised
The lack of money has made it difficult for them to provide the food, basic healthcare support the Rohingya need.
The UN refugee agency or UNHCR said on Thursday as it announced plans for a large donor conference next week.
The online event will take place on October 22 in an effort to close a “significant funding gap”.
“Solidarity with the Rohingya people means more than just meeting their basic needs.
Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.
“Refugees, like everyone else, have a right to a life of dignity and the chance to build a safe and stable future.”
In 2017, a brutal crackdown by the military forced some 750,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh
In violence that is now the subject of genocide charges against Myanmar at the UN’s top court at The Hague.
They joined an earlier wave of Rohingya who had fled earlier violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and were already living in camps close to the border.
Myanmar does not recognise the mostly Muslim Rohingya as citizens.
Even though the minority group has lived in the country for generations.
The UN agency said that it will press for more “sustainable solutions” to the crisis.
Including the “voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return” of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
The UNHCR did not say how much more money it hopes to raise at the conference.
Bangladesh requested the Philippines to Global political pressure on Myanmar together with all ASEAN members to take back the Rohingyas.
He paid a farewell call on Foreign Minister Dr Momen at the State Guest House Padma.
Radical elements can take advantage of the displacement and “regional and international security would certainly be jeopardised”.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen made the request through Ambassador of the Philippines Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo on Sunday.
At the meeting, the Forign Minister sought Philippines’ support on voluntary and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr Momen noted that the Philippines enjoys close ties with Myanmar that the latter should leverage its influence to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
To allay the fear of the Rohingyas, he said, Bangladesh has long been proposing formation of an ASEAN-led nonmilitary civilian observer group.
Myanmar is not coming forward positively to implement this proposal.
The Ambassador assured the minister of doing the needful for completing the MoU soon.
He paid a farewell call on Foreign Minister Dr Momen at the State Guest House Padma.
The onset of meaningful community self-help and social support for the Rohingya people. In spite of their tragic nature and adverse effects on mental health, emergencies are also an opportunity to build better mental health systems as they are instrumental to the overall well-being, functioning and resilience of individuals and their communities, to help them recover from crisis.
WHO is the leading agency in providing technical advice on mental health in emergency situations. For an effective response to emergencies, WHO endorsed interagency mental health and psychosocial support guidelines recommending services at different levels which include psychological first aid, basic clinical mental health care, psychological interventions, protection and promotion of rights and, finally, community self-help and social support.
In August 2017 as the plight of the Rohingya people became known to the world, humanitarian assistance arrived from all parts of the world in various ways. Max Frieder, the co-founder and co-executive director of Artolution, a non-profit international organization that brings community-based public arts education to crisis-affected populations, arrived in Cox’s Bazar certain that he would find in the refugee camps skilled artists to jointly develop a meaningful project. He was the pioneer of community self-help and social support in the Rohingya camps.
“We deliver long-term public art education programs to the world’s most vulnerable children and families led by local teaching artists in refugee camps. Our Rohingya Artolution team has created scalable solutions to delivering community resilience building and psychosocial development programs for the first time in the history of the Rohingya culture”, explains Max Frieder.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partner organizations have further intensified their COVID-19 response in the Rohingya refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, following the first confirmed case of coronavirus among the refugee population yesterday. Since March, UNHCR and partners have been supporting the Government of Bangladesh primarily in COVID-19 preparation and prevention efforts. With this first confirmed case, response mechanisms have now been activated and will require additional international support.
According to the Government of Bangladesh, one Rohingya refugee has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh. In addition, one member of the local Bangladeshi host community has also tested positive. Both had approached health facilities run by humanitarian partners, where samples were taken. These were subsequently tested in the IEDCR Field Laboratory in Cox’s Bazar.
Following the laboratory confirmation, Rapid Investigation Teams have been activated to investigate both cases, initiate isolation and treatment of patients as well as tracing contacts, quarantine and testing of contacts as per WHO guidelines.
Testing began in the Cox’s Bazar District in early April. As of yesterday (14 May), 108 refugees have been tested. response
There are serious concerns about the potentially severe impact of the virus in the densely populated refugee settlements sheltering some 860,000 Rohingya refugees. Another 400,000 Bangladeshis live in the surrounding host communities. These populations are considered to be among the most at risk globally in this pandemic. No effort must be spared if higher fatality rates are to be avoided in overcrowded sites with limited health and water and sanitation infrastructure.
On October 12, Monday, international human rights Community, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch community, claimed to have gained conclusive evidence about indiscriminate attacks against civilians inside Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
The groups have collected testimonies, visual evidence, and analysis of satellite imagery to prove that violence against the persecuted Rohingya community has continued. In the last week, as many as nine Rohingyas lost their lives in separate incidents in Myanmar and Bangladesh, where thousands of Rohingya refugees now live in camps.
On October 6, two minors belonging to the community were killed during a gunfight between the militant group Arakan Army and the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw), northeast of the Pyin Shae village in Rakhine State. According to locals, clashes erupted hours after 15 civilians from the Buthidaung township were conscripted by Tatmadaw to be used as human shields in a terrain believed to be mined by militants. Military spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun categorically denied that the soldiers had fired upon civilians. He blamed the Arakan Army for the casualties, adding that the soldiers had reached the area to investigate, only after hearing the artillery blasts.
A day earlier, on October 5, three Rohingya laborers were allegedly gunned down by patrolling soldiers near a bridge in Minbya township in Rakhine State. The civilians have been identified as Nu Mahmad (40), Noru Salam (50) and Mar Dawlar (45). All three belonged to Latma village and were moving in a boat towards the town market.
953,000 people of Cox’s Bazar are now eligible to receive coronavirus-related services from UN-led international community
The 2020 joint response plan (JRP) has been updated with an addendum to provide Covid-19 related services to more Bangladeshis in Cox’s Bazar, multiple sources have told Dhaka Tribune.
On March 3, United Nations agencies and NGO partners launched the 2020 JRP for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
The appeal aimed to raise US$877 million to respond to the needs of approximately 855,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and over 444,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities generously hosting them.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, a necessity was felt to update the JRP to fight the virus in order to protect the Rohingyas living in 34 congested camps and the vulnerable host communities, said the sources, adding that an addendum was then added to the JRP to make it worth $1.06 billion from $877 million.
The updated JRP will enable the provision of Covid-19 related services to 509,000 people from Cox’s Bazar in addition to 444,000 people from the host communities included in the original JRP.
An official of the Inter-Sector Coordination Group, which coordinates the humanitarian activities with respect to the Rohingya crisis, made it clear that the additional 509,000 Bangladeshis are only eligible for services related to Covid-19.
“Under the 2020 JRP, the target is to fulfill the needs of 855,000 Rohingyas. It also aims to meet the needs of 444,000 people belonging to the host communities. The people of the host communities will get support in accordance with their necessities,” he said.
However, he added: “The additional 509,000 considered by the addendum will only receive services related to Covid-19.”
“Undoubtedly, it has been a great help for the people of Cox’s Bazar. With this addendum, more than one third of the population of Cox’s Bazar district can receive quality health care,” said another official.
More than 20 percent of Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugees are struggling with mental health issues, a grim result of the abuse and trauma suffered in Myanmar, an official from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
The statistics were shared on World Mental Health Day, which is marked on Oct. 10 every year, and seeks to highlight the plight of nearly a million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and shared by the WHO, there were 14,819 consultations for mental health conditions registered by the district health department among the Rohingya in 2019.
From January to now the figure has jumped to nearly 20,000.
Most cases were addressed by healthcare centers at the camps, where Rohingya patients were given counseling and treatment.
“In the aftermath of a crisis, one person in five (22 percent) is estimated to have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia,” WHO spokesperson Catalin Bercaru told Arab News. “The psychosocial and social impacts of emergencies may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected populations.”
The Rohingya have endured decades of abuse and trauma in Myanmar, beginning in the 1970s when hundreds of thousands sought refuge in Bangladesh.
Between 1989 and 1991 an additional 250,000 fled when a military crackdown followed a popular uprising and Burma was renamed Myanmar. In 1992, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a repatriation deal that led to thousands of Rohingya returning to Rakhine state. The exodus to Bangladesh resumed a few years ago.
On 30 January 2020, COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the recommendation of the WHO’s Emergency Committee. By 11 March 2020, WHO declared the virus a pandemic—the first coronavirus to be declared as such. Bangladesh recorded its first COVID-19 cases in early March 2020, and since then cases have continued to increase exponentially. At the time of reporting, 317,528 positive cases, 211,016 recoveries and 4,351 deaths had been reported.
Currently, more than 860,000 Rohingya reside in the world’s largest, most densely populated refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. With a population density of 40,000 people/square kilometre, the risk of COVID-19 infection is high. The risk of morbidity and mortality is compounded by a nexus of factors, including local transmission (within Bangladesh), limited health infrastructure, poor health-seeking behaviours, shared sanitary facilities and general unhygienic living conditions. In February 2020, data was collected from 407 listening groups conducted by different agencies. Among them, only 1.2 percent of the groups mentioned coronavirus. The lack of awareness is amplified by the telecommunications blackout imposed across the camps in September 2019.
In early April, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the host community, followed by the first case in the camp on 14 May 2020. As of 5 September, 4,056 cases were confirmed in the host community (65 deaths) and 130 cases (6 deaths) in the camps.
In order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in Cox’s Bazar district among both the Bangladeshi and Rohingya communities, World Vision developed and implemented a COVID-19 response plan as part of the organisation’s global COVID-19 Emergency Response (COVER). The programme’s strategic objectives aimed to.
They were once the residents of Rakhine state. Then they became victims of persecution. Then they turned into refugees, desperately crossing the Naf river to seek refuge in Bangladesh. And now they have become a burden, who everyone sympathises with but no one bothers to support with meaningful action in their quest for a return to their land, except of course Bangladesh—the nation currently hosting them—and a handful of other nations such as The Gambia.
The protracted stalemate over the Rohingya refugees continues with Myanmar doing absolutely nothing to create a conducive environment for their return. On the contrary, over the last few years, Myanmar has bulldozed Rohingya villages in Rakhine state and established new installations and infrastructure. A recent report by Al Jazeera stated that the UN has said that Myanmar has erased the name of Kan Kya—once a Rohingya land—from its official maps.
According to the same Al Jazeera report, “Where Kan Kya once stood, there are now dozens of government and military buildings including a sprawling, fenced-off police base, according to satellite images publicly available on Google Earth and historical images provided to Reuters by Planet Labs… On maps produced in 2020 by the United Nations mapping unit in Myanmar, which it says are based on Myanmar government maps, the site of the destroyed village is now nameless and reclassified as part of nearby town Maungdaw.”
Kan Kya is just one of the more than dozen villages whose names have been changed or erased in Myanmar. And since 2017, more than 400 villages once inhabited by the Rohingya have been razed to the ground. The Rohingya refugees fear that this is a tactic by the Myanmar government to completely remove the possibility of the Rohingya refugees ever returning to Myanmar. If they have no roots, where will they return?