UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called for renewed international commitment, support and solidarity for the Rohingyas ahead of next Tuesday’s donor conference and launch of the 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis.
The 2021 JRP brings together the efforts of the government of Bangladesh, and 134 UN agencies and NGO partners to target almost 1.4 million people this year, said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic in Geneva on Friday.
Jointly co-hosted by the government of Bangladesh, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the virtual 2021 JRP launch event will highlight the most immediate needs and the ongoing humanitarian response.
The event is scheduled to run from 10 am to 12 pm CEST Geneva (2-4 pm in Dhaka) on May 18. The event will be live streamed.
Last year, the United Nations appealed for more than US$1 billion to meet the needs of the Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar district.
At the end of 2020, this appeal was just 59.4% funded.
"We stress that the international community must not only maintain support for refugees and their hosts, but also adapt to new and emerging needs and pursue the search for durable solutions," said the spokesperson.
More than 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 Bangladeshis in the surrounding host communities in Cox’s Bazar district are brought under the plan.
Most Rohingya refugees, some 740,000, fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017.
With the refugee crisis in its fourth year, Bangladesh needs robust and sustained international support to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the stateless Rohingya refugees, said Mahecic.
"This must not become a forgotten crisis. Both Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh, having generously hosted them for decades, must see the world standing with them," said the spokesperson.
Adding to the complexity of this crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded vulnerabilities for refugees and host communities alike.
To date, the government of Bangladesh, with the support of the humanitarian community, has effectively managed the Covid-19 response and the spread of the disease in the Rohingya camps and surrounding areas, though the trajectory of the virus remains unpredictable, UNHCR said.
A coordinated and inclusive response has saved lives. However, it is critical to ensure the continued delivery of all humanitarian assistance and protection services.
The needs of the Rohingyas reach beyond subsistence and physical safety. Refugees, like any other people, cannot be allowed to wait for years without access to education and options for a decent life and a meaningful future.
In order to mitigate the risks of people taking dangerous onward journeys, more must be done to ensure that refugees have hope in Bangladesh, and of a future back home in Myanmar, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Otherwise, they may increasingly risk such journeys by land or sea to find a solution elsewhere.
The search for durable solutions must remain focused on the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees to their homes in Myanmar, when conditions allow them to do so.
However, the ongoing crisis and political instability in Myanmar have added new layers of complexity to this challenge.