British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called on the world not to “turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering”.
He also announced £47.5million new UK aid to support 860,000 Rohingya refugees and help Bangladesh deal with coronavirus and natural disasters.
This announcement comes as the UK co-hosts a major international summit on the Rohingya crisis Thursday, along with the US, EU and UNHCR, to bring together the international community to raise much-needed funds for the humanitarian response.
Some 860,000 Rohingya live in overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, without formal education or work opportunities. Coronavirus has made the situation in the packed and unsanitary camps even more desperate.
This new funding announced by the Foreign Secretary will provide hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people with food, healthcare, water and sanitation, as well as care and counselling for those traumatised by the violence they have experienced.
It will also improve access to education for 50,000 young people, as well as create isolation and treatment centres for people suffering from coronavirus, the UK foreign office said.
Alongside this, the UK aid package will support communities in Bangladesh, as the country, hosting the highest number of Rohingya refugees.
It will strengthen its health system to respond to COVID-19 and continue the UK’s support to help Bangladesh become more resilient to natural disasters such as flooding.
“The people living in Cox’s Bazar face unimaginable hardship and many have been victims of violence. We have imposed sanctions on the perpetrators of this brutality and this new funding will save lives in the camp and help Bangladesh become more resilient to disasters such as coronavirus,” Dominic Raab said.
“Today I urge the world not to turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering and to take the action necessary to allow them to safely return to the homes they fled in terror.”
The summit brought countries together to show solidarity for the Rohingya people, express support for nations hosting them as refugees and urge countries to pledge funds to the humanitarian crisis which this year is critically underfunded.
The UN has estimated it needs $1billion this year to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh but so far less than half of that has been raised.
At the conference, FCDO Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon will reiterate that steps must be taken to work towards the voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to their homes in Myanmar.
In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya left the country to escape brutal and systematic violence.
Since then, the UK has sanctioned two generals in the Myanmar military, as recommended by a UN independent investigation, which found them responsible for atrocities which amount to ethnic cleansing.
In addition to the Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, up to 150,000 are living in other countries in the region and an estimated 600,000 live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
The new announcement brings the total UK aid commitment to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, which began in 2017, to close to £300 million.
It includes £37.5million to provide humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar and £10million in support for Bangladesh to help the country respond to coronavirus and natural disasters like flooding.
This new funding will provide food, shelter, health, protection, water and sanitation, and support for traumatised and vulnerable women and girls, including food for over 290,000 Rohingya refugees for four months, support for isolation and treatment centres for severe COVID-19 cases, and support especially for Rohingya women and girls, against violence, exploitation and abuse. This includes for the child survivors of trafficking.
Funds raised at the conference will go to international organisations and non-governmental organisations working to alleviate the crisis on the ground in Myanmar, throughout the region, and as specified by the UN-led Joint Response Plan (JRP) in Bangladesh.