DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Due to a sharp decline in fundraising campaigns and a dysfunctional process of repatriation, Rohingya refugees camping in Bangladesh say they fear a shortage of food and an impact on their livelihoods, education, and other activities.
Khin Maung, a Rohingya youth in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, lamented that the world has not fulfilled promises and has not met the needs of persecuted Rohingya, who were forced to leave their homes due to the crackdown by the Myanmar military in 2017.
“We fear that we would face a food shortage that will impact our livelihood activities. We noticed especially this year that there is no monsoon preparation like previous years,” he said.
Humanitarian agencies said they need more than $881 million this year to support approximately 1.4 million people, including 920,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char Island, according to the UN.
However, so far only 13% of the joint response plan as adopted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has been funded.
According to UN official Filippo Grandi, they need funds to ensure schooling as 52% of the refugee population is under the age of 18.
“Skills development and livelihood activities in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char are extremely important in allowing refugees to build peaceful communities, contribute to a safe environment and support their sustainable return,” he added.
Maung said that the paucity of funds has increased frustration as an uncertain future is looming over the refugees.
“We are willing to go to our motherland as early as possible and repatriation is the only solution to escape from the prevailing and possible crisis. The global community has a responsibility to find a durable solution for the refugees,” he said.
World failing Rohingya
The Russia-Ukraine war has also affected the supply of food and other essentials.
Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, said that they were asking for a small amount of $881 million for supporting the refugees. He said the world was failing the Rohingya again.
“While failing to act against the military junta of Myanmar, they should not neglect the humanitarian support, which is the easiest for them as underfunding will create many problems, including starvation among refugees,” he said.
Kamal Uddin, a professor at the University of Chittagong, said there had been no visible progress in the repatriation of Rohingya.
“The recent Ukraine war and the West’s defeat in Afghanistan have affected the fundraising. Evolving issues have distracted the world from the anguishes of Rohingya,” he said.
The UN had helped relocate some 28,000 Rohingya to the remote island Bhasan Char.
However, experts say that in the wake of donor agencies failing to provide financial support for the refugees, the relocation can be a trap for Bangladesh.
“UN and global powers are far interested in settling down Rohingya in Bangladesh rather than imposing sanctions on the genocidal state Myanmar to take back its nationals,” said Kamal Uddin.
Repatriation main goal
He further said that drug peddlers use the refugees as means to smuggle drugs and illegal arms from Myanmar to Bangladesh and many women are forced into prostitution.
“Increased arms infightings and subsequent killings in refugee camps are being reported. Evil quarters are trying to establish Rohingya as a terror group towards the global community to stop their return to Myanmar,” he added.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat said that UN agencies mainly work on raising funds for the refugees.
He reiterated that repatriation is the main goal of Bangladesh and the country is working on it.
“The possible decline in fund collection undoubtedly affects the refugees in Cox’s Bazar, including education and reintegration, deepening their frustration,” he said.