Netherlands, IOM join hands to improve environment, strengthen resilience of Rohingyas, host communities in Cox’s Bazar
The Netherlands will provide USD 7.5 million to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for a project aims to provide multi-sectoral support assistance for the Rohingya refugees and the host communities in Cox’s Bazar. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dhaka and the IOM have signed an agreement for the implementation of ‘Restoring the Environment and Strengthening Resilience of Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Cox’s Bazar’ project. An Exchange of Notes was signed by Chargé d’Affaires Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh, and Fathima Nusrath Ghazzali, Officer in Charge of IOM Bangladesh at the IOM Office in Dhaka on Monday. Cox’s Bazar District, currently hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees since 2017, is prone to natural disasters and climate change impacts. Refugees and host communities are vulnerable to landslides and floods, particularly during cyclones which can occur annually. Read more: IOM unveils first 12 of 100 under-construction community clinics in Cox’s Bazar The temporary and often weak shelter structures in which the refugees live further exacerbate not only the vulnerability of the refugees to natural disasters but also psychosocial stress. For this reason, the project seeks to integrate mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) into the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities. This integrated approach adopted by the Netherlands and IOM aims to build resilient communities and reduce negative mental health and psychosocial outcomes, and to increase the community’s capacity in DRR prevention and preparedness as well as their resilience to hazardous events. It is envisioned that 196,463 people from refugee and host communities will benefit from the project, receiving assistance through the continued operation and maintenance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, environmental rehabilitation activities and MHPSS (psychiatric consultations, counseling, case management). Some 18,000 beneficiaries will receive lay-counseling by trained community volunteers. At least 200 volunteers will be trained on Psychological First Aid (PFA), lay counseling, stress management and other MHPSS-related and residence-oriented topics. At least 18 community support groups will be established, involving 180 community members. The project will also benefit at least 30,000 refugee families (approximately 150,000 people) living in the Balukhali landslide and flood-prone areas (inside the camps) and 3,000 families from the Bangladeshi host communities (approximately 16,410 people) living in the area outside the refugee camps. Read more: Bangladesh can’t & shouldn’t bear Rohingyas’ responsibility alone: IOM “The Rohingya live in congested camps with limited opportunities and complex challenges. Host communities also face issues that increase their vulnerability, including strained resources, limited market access, limited employment opportunities, insufficient infrastructure, and recurring environmental shocks," said Ghazzali, "With support from the Netherlands, IOM will provide life-saving support to Rohingya refugees and host communities, contributing to improved social harmony and human security. This will include providing essential services focusing on camp life; mental health; disaster risk reduction, and water, sanitation & hygiene,” she added. Chargé d’Affaires Thijs Woudstra expressed hope that the support from the Government of the Netherlands will help to improve the living conditions of both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi communities and mitigate disaster risks. “We particularly value the innovative angle this project takes in integrating MHPSS in DRR. Increasing community resilience and preparing the community to adequately respond to disasters is key to ensure a sustainable reduction of disaster risks for refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.” the Deputy Ambassador said. The project will be implemented in coordination with the government of Bangladesh and other relevant stakeholders.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Monday said Bangladesh is "much worried" about the Rohingyas and the current situation in Myanmar. “We keep telling the Myanmar government….they give us assurance always,” he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noting that it seems many things are beyond their control. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and not a single person was repatriated over the last five years since the influx in 2017. Responding to a question, Momen said it is a “very complex issue” and many kinds of operators are there (inside Myanmar). He said there is no presence of ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) here and Bangladesh does not promote or shelter any such foreign entity on its territory. Momen said Bangladesh sought support from China on the issue of stability and believed that the Chinese side had conveyed it to Myanmar but in many cases things are beyond the control of Myanmar. He said Bangladesh maintains a very good relationship with all the countries - friendship to all, malice to none - and they work under PM’s directives. “We want to work with all,” Momen said, adding that Bangladesh maintains a very balanced foreign policy. Teesta Project Responding to a question on possible engagement of China in a Teesta-related project, Momen said they have not received any such proposal officially yet. He, however, mentioned about a French experts group’s visit (1988-89) who worked on a comprehensive study (including Teesta) on how floods can be controlled in Bangladesh. The project could not be taken at that time due to lack of required funds but recently, he said, they have heard about funding for the old project. Momen encouraged the reporters to ask the relevant ministry saying they might know at what stage it is now. On October 9, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming visited Rangpur division and talked with local people at the Teesta Barrage. On October 10, the ambassador visited the bridge project under construction by CSCEC over Teesta River in Gaibandha district of Rangpur division.
The government of Japan and WFP on Monday signed an exchange of notes to provide food and nutrition assistance to the Rohingyas in Bhasan Char and to develop agricultural infrastructure in Cox’s Bazar.The contribution of USD 4.3 million will be used for critical food assistance through the e-voucher system for the Rohingya refugees living in Bhasan Char and will help further the development of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation system, canal excavation, and new roads for the Bangladeshi community in Cox’s Bazar.“Japan is an essential partner for WFP, and we are grateful for their staunch support of development in Bangladesh and of our humanitarian efforts in the country,” said Dom Scalpelli, the resident Representative and Country Director of WFP Bangladesh.Scalpelli said this new contribution will help them continue to provide life-saving food assistance on the island of Bhasan Char and will greatly benefit the Bangladeshi community in Cox’s Bazar.Following the emergency grant of USD 2 million in January. Japan decided to provide additional assistance to Bhasan Char, with the "strong hope" that this contribution will respond to the urgent food and nutrition needs of the Rohingya population on Bhasan Char, as well as to enhance the agricultural environment in Cox’s Bazar."During my recent visit to Cox’s Bazar, I saw the dedicated and professional work of WFP and its partners. Food assistance by E-Voucher in the Cox’s Bazar camps is truly innovative, and it is our great pleasure that the innovative approach will be expanded to Bhasan Char with this funding," said Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki. Read: US announces over $170 million in humanitarian assistance for RohingyasAs the Rohingya crisis has stepped into the sixth year, it is imperative to continue funding for better and dignified lives of refugees, while making every effort for the early repatriation to Myanmar, he said."Durable solutions of this crisis will be conducive to realizing the vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, Japan will stand by the government and the people of Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya response," said Naoki.Since the beginning of the emergency in August 2017, Japan has been a steadfast supporter of the Rohingya refugee response in Bangladesh, contributing over USD $170 million to UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGOs in Bangladesh, including through this new funding.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has met acting Foreign Secretary Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam and discussed the ways to repatriate Rohingyas to their homeland as well as the recent tension at Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Talking to a small group of reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the meeting today, Ambassador Li said they have discussed several issues, including "early repatriation" of the Rohingyas and cooperation between the two countries. Asked whether they discussed the recent border issues with Myanmar, the Chinese envoy said they touched upon the recent developments and the acting foreign secretary did mention that. "That was very unfortunate.....I have no more information,” he said. Talking to reporters, Khurshed Alam said China assured Bangladesh of talking to the Myanmar authorities for ensuring peace along the border. Responding to a question, he said Bangladesh thinks China, as a friendly country of Bangladesh, will convey Bangladesh’s message to Myanmar as China has the leverage. The acting foreign secretary said he briefed the Chinese ambassador on the recent incidents in the bordering areas with Myanmar. He said Bangladesh also urged the Chinese Ambassador to expedite the Rohingya repatriation process which is yet to start. There is a tripartite mechanism involving Bangladesh, Myanmar and China to discuss and find ways to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Last week, Bangladesh sought support and necessary steps from the international community to stop the violence so that Myanmar cannot create instability in the region and thus avoid the repatriation of the Rohingyas. Bangladesh conveyed to the international community that it is working with much patience and tolerance; and Bangladesh did not do anything that might cause Myanmar's mortar shells landing inside Bangladesh — impacting the life and livelihoods of Bangladeshis. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char.
The US has announced over $170 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas inside and outside Myanmar as well as for host communities in Bangladesh. "With this new funding, our total assistance in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis has reached nearly $1.9 billion since August 2017, when over 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to safety in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday. The assistance comes about a month after the UN refugee agency said the funding to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was well short of needs. More than a million Rohingya are living in squalid camps in southern Bangladesh comprising the world's largest refugee settlement. The new round of US humanitarian assistance includes more than $93 million through the State Department and more than $77 million through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Blinken said. About $138 million was allocated specifically for programmes in Bangladesh to provide life-sustaining support to the Rohingyas, many of whom are survivors of a campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and 540,000 host community members, according to the State Department. "Recognising that conditions in Myanmar do not currently allow for the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return and reintegration of displaced Rohingyas, we are working with the government of Bangladesh, Rohingyas, and people within Myanmar towards finding solutions to the crisis," Blinken said. The latest support will enable the provision of food, safe drinking water, health care, protection, education, shelter, and psychosocial support, the US government said. The US urged other donors to contribute robustly to the humanitarian response and increase support to those driven by and affected by violence in Myanmar. Also read: Japan, UNHCR sign $3.5 million partnership deal for protection of Rohingyas in Bangladesh
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina broke down in tears and was overwhelmed with emotion in New York Thursday while talking about the everyday ordeals of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals – Rohingyas. She was speaking at a high-level meeting on the Rohingya crisis at a hotel. "She (PM) could not control her tears while talking about the hardship these displaced people (Rohingyas) have to go through every day," the Awami League tweeted. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char Island. Also read: PM in NY: Rohingyas living in Myanmar’s Arakan since 8th century
The government of Japan and UNHCR on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas in Bangladesh. The contribution of US$ 3.5 million [JPY 505 million] will be used to maintain access to critical and life-sustaining services for refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar camps and on Bhasan Char. “UNHCR is grateful for the support from the Japanese Government and its people towards Rohingya refugees, and their solidarity with the government and people of Bangladesh hosting them,” said Johannes Van Der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh. Japan was the first to support the humanitarian response on Bhasan Char, Klaauw said, adding that its contribution has allowed UNHCR to strengthen local NGO work on the island, including providing protection and access to essential services. As per the agreement, UNHCR will continue its humanitarian response in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char, focusing on providing key services, such as legal and community-based protection, access to health, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition support and core relief items. Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki said his country decided to provide assistance to this project, with the strong hope that it will improve the protection, healthcare and livelihood opportunities of the Rohingya population on Bhasan Char, and enhance their security in Cox’s Bazar. Read: UNHCR seeks more support from international community for Rohingyas “During my recent visit to Cox’s Bazar, I saw the dedicated and innovative work of UNHCR and its partners. As the Rohingya crisis has turned into the sixth year, it is imperative to continue funding for better and dignified lives of refugees, while making every effort for the early repatriation to Myanmar,” he said. With the view that durable solutions of this crisis will be conducive to realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region, the envoy said Japan will stand by the government and the people of Bangladesh in supporting the Rohingya response. Skills development and livelihoods activities will be strengthened to provide refugees with the capacities to support their communities and to help them prepare for a safe and sustainable return to Myanmar, once conditions are conducive, according to the UN refugee agency. The crisis is in a protracted situation, and Rohingya refugees’ lives are still dependent on humanitarian assistance. The support from Japan comes at a crucial moment, as the Rohingya response is one of the underfunded refugee situations in the world, it said. Since the beginning of the emergency in August 2017, Japan has been a steadfast supporter of the Rohingya response in Bangladesh, contributing over US$ $170 million to UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGOs in Bangladesh, including through this new funding.
The Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh Ito Naoki paid a two-day (September 12-13) visit to Cox's Bazar just after the 5th anniversary of the Rohingya influx and Japan's new contribution to UNHCR and WFP, USD 8.2 million. He visited the learning center and multi-purpose center of UNICEF, the Rohingya Cultural and Memory Centre of IOM, and an aggregation center of WFP.
-The Rohingyas are a “big burden” on Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, and reached out to the international community to ensure their return to their homeland. The PM said that Bangladesh had offered shelter to the Rohingyas when they were in dire need. “But now, they should go back to their country. India as a neighbour can play a major role in it, I feel,” Hasina said in an interview with ANI. She said that the presence of lakhs of Rohingyas in Bangladesh had created challenges for her government. Also read: Repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar ultimate solution: S Korea “For us (Rohingyas are) a big burden. India is a big country… you can accommodate. But in our country... we have 1.1 million Rohingyas… We are consulting with the international community and also our neighbouring countries. They should also take some steps so that they can go back home,” Hasina said. The Bangladesh prime minister said that her government had tried to take care of the displaced community, keeping the humanitarian aspect in mind. “…On humanitarian grounds, we give them shelter and provided everything. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we also vaccinated all the Rohingyas. But how long will they stay here? Due to the camps, there are negative impact on the environment… Some are engaging in drug trafficking and armed conflicts, trafficking women. Day by day it is increasing. The sooner they return home, the better for our country and also for Myanmar. We have been trying our best to pursue them, we’re discussing with them and also the international community, like ASEAN and UN,” Hasina said. During the interview, Hasina was also asked about Bangladesh’s cooperation with India on river water sharing, especially regarding the Teesta river. She said that while there were challenges, they were not anything which could not be resolved mutually. Also read: Requested US, UK, Japan to take Rohingyas from Bangladesh: FM “We are in a... you know... downstream. Water is coming from India, so India should show more generosity. Both the countries will be beneficiaries. Sometimes our people suffer a lot because of water needs… this is especially true for Teesta. I think, it should be solved. We found that the (Indian) Prime Minister is quite eager to solve this problem, but the problem is in your country,” Hasina said.
The government of the Republic of Korea has announced its plan to provide US$ 3.2 million in 2022 to support humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas and their host communities in Bangladesh. This year’s humanitarian assistance will be provided through international organizations such as UNHCR, IOM, WFP, UNICEF and IFRC operating in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, said the South Korean embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday. According to the Embassy, some portion of this year’s funding will be allocated to the refugees in Bhasan Char for the second year in a row. South Korea has supported UN agencies’ operation in Bhasan Char since the inception of the relocation to the island in 2021. In addition, highly recognizing the generosity of the Bangladesh government and its people for hosting the Rohingyas, the Embassy stressed that a fair portion of this year’s assistance has been allocated to support host communities in Cox’s Bazar which were directly impacted by the refugee influx five years ago. Read:Army to join drive against terrorism, drugs in Rohingya camps: Home Minister Since 2017, the government of the Republic of Korea has continued to provide US$ 4 to US$5 million annually to the Rohingyas and their host communities in Bangladesh in close cooperation with the Bangladesh government and international organizations. Korea’s funding has been used up for various humanitarian activities over the five years including the provision of LPG and food, humanitarian activities in response to fire in the camps, and the provision of services to protect gender-based violence. In addition to annual regular funding, Korea has also assisted humanitarian activities in Cox’s Bazar through KOICA, Korea’s development agency. KOICA is implementing ‘Project for Improving Menstrual Health Management of Adolescent Girls and Women in Cox’s Bazar’ through UNFPA with a budget of US$ 2.95 million. Also, ‘Psychosocial Support Project for Rohingya Women’ has been kicked off this year in cooperation with a Korea’s non-governmental organization. The Embassy said the Republic of Korea supports dialogues between the government of Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of the refugees and believes that safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their communities should be realized as soon as possible.