The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is asking for $125 million to support 1.4 million Rohingya refugees, host communities in need in Cox's Bazar as the response to the Rohingya refugee crisis drags on for a sixth year in 2023.Over 900,000 Rohingya refugees have temporarily sought shelter in Cox's Bazar since the 2017 influx, and the Bangladeshi government and the wider international community have supported them throughout.The Rohingyas must continue to receive ongoing help until they may freely return to Myanmar in a secure and dignified manner, IOM said on its website today. Along with other humanitarian organisations, it has been providing lifesaving, protection and assistance services to the refugee community for the last six years.“The ongoing crises and disasters around the world should not make us forget the needs of Rohingya refugees and the response in Bangladesh,” said António Vitorino, IOM director general. “We earnestly urge the international community to step up their efforts to ensure the Rohingya refugees continue to receive the support they need.”The Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, which includes over 100 response players made up of UN agencies and NGOs, includes the IOM's appeal. Under the JRP for 2023, which was launched today with the Government of Bangladesh, these humanitarian players are attempting to raise a total of more than $876 million. In order to put that in context, we should note that the JRP for 2022 amounted to $881 million, and less than half that amount was disbursed. The expectation is that the 2023 response will be even worse. The World Food Programme (WFP), another UN agency, has already been forced to cut food rations for camp residents by 17% from March 1, from $12 per head to $10 per person.Refugee protection is a top priority for IOM. It works with vulnerable people and at the community level to reduce the risks of gender-based violence and the physical, psychosocial, and social vulnerabilities of child and human trafficking in order to protect the most vulnerable, especially women and children who make up over 75% of the population.“Our priorities for 2023 include the continuation of providing life-saving assistance and protection of the Rohingya refugees and support for vulnerable host community members,” said Abdusattor Esoev, IOM Bangladesh chief of mission.“We call on the international community to contribute generously to our efforts to help these refugees and not forget the plight of the Rohingya in Bangladesh,” he added. US, UK respond to JRP Both the United States and the United Kingdom, both vital to the response, have in the last few hours released statements in response to the launch of the 2023 JRP. While London kept its wallet closed, Washington announced a new, small amount it would be disbursing on top of earlier commitments. Both power centres however, seem to be converging on an interesting alternative course to deal with the issue. That would seem to involve persuading the Bangladeshi hosts to be more accommodating of the Rohingyas, even outside the camps - for job opportunities, or to even support themselves. The UK’s response was delivered in Geneva by Simon Manley, the country’s ambassador to the UN missions in that city. He said the UK sees an urgent need to work pragmatically with the Government of Bangladesh, to find a sustainable way forward that “offers the Rohingya more self-reliance, and less dependence on humanitarian aid.” The statement also sought to “achieve maximum effect with every pound, euro or dollar we spend.” The US statement was delivered virtually by Assistant Secretary Julieta Valls Noyes. In it, she said the United States will contribute “nearly $26 million dollars in new humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees”. This would be on top of an earlier commitment of $75 million towards JRP 2023, announced in January. Noyes then called on Bangladesh “to reexamine its restrictions on allowing refugees to earn a living.” “Restrictions on livelihoods deny Rohingya the ability to provide for themselves and the sense of purpose many of us get from our vocations,” the statement continued, falling in with the UK’s theme. “These restrictions prevent Rohingya from contributing to the communities that generously welcomed them and limit the chances of a sustainable, voluntary repatriation.” Noyes ended by saying the United States would be “among the countries now welcoming Rohingya from Bangladesh.”
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners are calling on the international community to redouble efforts for sustained financial support and solutions for Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi host communities them as the dire situation enters its sixth year. Under the leadership of the Bangladeshi authorities, the 2023 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis calls for $876 million to reach 1.47 million people. The Joint Response Plan brings together 116 partners, nearly half of them national organizations from Bangladesh. The Plan, which was launched today, aims to help some 978,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and on the island of Bhasan Char, and 495,000 Bangladeshis in neighbouring communities, with food, shelter, health care, access to drinkable water, protection services, education, as well as livelihood opportunities and skills development. Every day, the nearly one million Rohingya women, children and men that fled from violence and persecution in Myanmar for Bangladesh wake up in a chilling fog of uncertainty about their futures, said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Dhaka, Bangladesh at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday. They are desperate to return to their homes in Myanmar, which are currently out of reach, and instead live in extremely overcrowded, and sometimes dangerous conditions in refugee camps, relying almost entirely on humanitarian assistance for their survival, the UNHCR envoy said. "While the situation has become protracted, the needs of refugees remain urgent. Women and children, who make up more than 75 per cent of the targeted refugee population, face higher risks of abuse, exploitation, and gender-based violence," said Johannes van der Klaauw. More than half of the refugees in the camps are under 18, their futures on hold. Since the onset of this humanitarian crisis in 2017, the Government of Bangladesh and local communities, with aid agencies, have been quick to respond to arriving refugees in what remains the world’s largest refugee camp. However, as global displacement continues to rise, so does the risk that the needs of Rohingya refugees and surrounding host communities will be forgotten, Johannes added With decreased funding, refugees stand to face even more challenges in their daily lives in terms of proper nutrition, shelter materials, sanitation facilities and livelihood opportunities. The lack of funds has already forced the World Food Programme to cut its lifesaving food assistance to all Rohingya living in the camps; despite concerted humanitarian efforts, 45 per cent of Rohingya families are not eating a sufficiently healthy diet and malnutrition is widespread. These ration cuts are likely to result in higher malnutrition rates, deteriorating health, school dropouts, increased incidents of child marriage, child labour and gender-based violence. "It is therefore vital to ensure continued funding and support to be able to deliver life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to the camp population while also investing in education, skills training and livelihood opportunities, allowing refugees to partially fulfil their basic needs with their own means," he said. The relocation of some 30,000 Rohingya to the island of Bhasan Char needs to be complemented by significant investment in communal livelihood initiatives as a prerequisite for the viability and sustainability of the project. The combination of prolonged displacement and deteriorating camp conditions has prompted an increasing number of refugees to resort to dangerous boat journeys to seek a better future. Last year alone, more than 3,500 Rohingya attempted high-risk boat journeys across the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. Sadly, 10 per cent lost their lives or went missing. The solutions to the Rohingya crisis ultimately lie within Myanmar. Many Rohingya refugees continue to express their desire to return home when conditions allow, yet currently there is no prospect for a safe, dignified and sustainable return in the immediate future. "Hence, steadfast support from the international community remains crucial to support efforts by Myanmar to develop conditions conducive for return and to uphold the Rohingya right to return, while also supporting delivery of life-saving assistance and effective protection to refugees in the camps until they can return, with their rights ensured." Given its geography, annual cycles of heavy monsoon rains and cyclones pose substantial risks to refugees in camps and host communities. Among the objectives of the Joint Response Plan, in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh, will be to strengthen disaster risk management and combat the effects of climate change through reforestation and promoting the use of renewable and cleaner energy sources. The provision of cooking gas, which has significantly eased pressure on the environment, requires significant funding.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales, on Tuesday said destination countries – most of them in the Middle East – must take an active role in “investigating and sanctioning perpetrators of human rights violations” against Bangladeshi migrant workers. At the same time, Bangladesh should continue reinforcing its consular services, he added. "Bangladesh must step up efforts to strengthen regulation of the migrant recruitment system to protect migrant workers against exploitation and abuses," the UN Rapporteur told reporters at a press conference in Dhaka at the end of a 10-day official visit to Bangladesh. In his preliminary observations, the UN expert said despite the positive economic contributions migrant workers bring to the local economy and the existence of necessary legislation and policy, many flaws still exist in the recruitment system which adversely impact the rights of migrant workers. “These challenges exist at all stages of migration.” He will present a full report on his visit, including findings and recommendations, to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2023. Read more: ‘Over 51,000 migrants die, thousands go missing in 8 years’ Morales stressed on strengthening monitoring and coordination to promote regular migration and help stop human trafficking. “Recruitment currently imposes exorbitant high costs on many migrants, creating debt bondage, much of which is imposed by “middlemen” who are used to recruit workers,” he said. He urged authorities to protect the rights of migrant workers at all stages of migration, including pre-departure, during employment abroad and upon their return. The Special Rapporteur commended the government for actions taken to curb these challenges, but said there was still a need to regulate, closely monitor and enhance the recruitment system to ensure effective protection for migrants, including better access to justice. The expert noted the stark difference in skilled migration schemes channeled through government-to-government initiatives, which yield more beneficial results for migrants due to more robust regulation and oversight. “It is the lower-skilled migrants who are often subject to vulnerable situations, including exploitation, as they are often poor, lack education and without access to information that can help inform their decisions and enhance their migration experiences,” Morales said. Read more: Swift return of irregular migrants to help promote legal migration: European Commissioner The Special Rapporteur encouraged ongoing training initiatives for aspiring migrant workers but stressed the need to better equip them with adequate information prior to departure, including recourse when they suffer abuse. He welcomed the establishment of a database of aspiring migrant workers as well as better regulation of middlemen, including requirements for registration. Morales emphasised that responsibility for migrant workers equally falls on countries of destination. “These countries must do their part in ensuring strong protection for migrant workers, particularly women who are disproportionately at risk of human rights violations when they are hired as domestic workers,” he said. Durable Solution for All Rohingyas Critical During his visit, the Special Rapporteur travelled to Cox’s Bazar to meet with Rohingya refugees. Morales praised Bangladesh for receiving nearly one million Rohingyas escaping from Myanmar and said he was impressed by the resilience of the Rohingya refugees – some of whom have been living in camps for over five years, and others 30 years since first arrivals in the early 1990s. “A durable solution for all Rohingya refugees is critical,” the UN expert said. He expressed concern about the lack of legal status for Rohingyas, and noted that children who are born in the camps he visited are not issued an official birth certificate. The expert also called on the authorities to facilitate permits to improve access to education through learning centers and life skills training which many Rohingyas have praised and welcomed as a means to a more hopeful and dignified life. The UN rapporteur said it is important to enhance coordination among the agencies engaged to address the challenges. "It's a tremendous challenge." He also noted the need to upgrade the quality of housing in the camps particularly in light of the impact of climate change that have resulted in fire and flooding incidents.
At least 26 Rohingya Muslims had died in dire conditions during a month at open sea while making a dangerous voyage that brought scores of others to safety in Indonesia, a U.N. agency said Tuesday, adding there will likely be more. Exhausted women and children were among 185 people who disembarked from a rickety wooden boat on Monday in a coastal village in Aceh’s Pidie district, authorities said. A distressing video circulated widely on social media showed the Rohingya worn out and emaciated, with many crying for help. Read more: More Rohingya refugees reach Indonesia after weeks at sea “They are very weak because of dehydration and exhaustion after weeks at sea,” said local police chief Fauzi, who goes by a single name. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that survivors told the agency that 26 people died during the long journey. One of the refugees, who identified himself as Rosyid, told The Associated Press that they left the refugee camp in Bangladesh at the end of November and drifted on the open sea. He said at least “20 of us died aboard due to high waves and sick, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.” According to UNHCR, more than 2,000 people are reported to have taken risky sea journeys in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal this year, and nearly 200 have reportedly died. UNHCR has also received unconfirmed reports of one additional boat with some 180 people still missing, with all passengers presumed dead. “In the absence of an immediate, resourceful, and coordinated response by regional governments to help Rohingya refugees still aboard imperiled vessels, lives may be lost,” Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said in an statement. “This is unacceptable.” Read more: Urgently rescue boat carrying upto 200 Rohingyas: ASEAN parliamentarians urge member states, others Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, which works in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya, said the latest arrivals were among five groups of Rohingya who had left refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh by smaller boats to avoid detection by local coast guards before they were transferred onto five larger boats for their respective journeys. More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over several decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown. Myanmar’s security forces were accused of mass rapes, killings and torching thousands of homes, and international courts are reviewing charges of genocide against them. “This year could be one of the deadliest in recent memory for Rohingya people making the dangerous journey by sea. They continue to risk it all because of harsh conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where security and other living conditions have deteriorated, and the ever-worsening situation at home in Myanmar, which has been under military rule since a coup almost two years ago,” Amnesty International’s Usman said. Malaysia has been a common destination for many of the refugees arriving by boat, but they also have been detained in the country. Engine troubles make others seek safety in Aceh province in Indonesia, on the way to Malaysia. UNHCR praised authorities and Indonesia’s local community who brought ashore more than 200 desperate Rohingya, many of whom were in need of urgent medical attention. Indonesian fishermen and local authorities rescued and disembarked two groups, 58 on Sunday and 174 on Monday, said Ann Maymann, the UNHCR representative in Indonesia, “We welcome this act of humanity by local communities and authorities in Indonesia.”
A second group in two days of weak and exhausted Rohingya Muslims landed on a beach in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh on Monday after weeks at sea, officials said. At least 185 men, women and children disembarked from a rickety wooden boat at dusk on Ujong Pie beach at Muara Tiga, a coastal village in Aceh’s Pidie district, said local police chief Fauzi, who goes by a single name. “They are very weak because of dehydration and exhaustion after weeks at sea,” Fauzi said. A distressing video circulated widely in social media showed the 185 dehydrated and exhausted Rohingya, crumpled weakly and emaciated, many crying for help. READ: Urgently rescue boat carrying upto 200 Rohingyas: ASEAN parliamentarians urge member states, others The 83 men, 70 women and 32 children were transferred by military trucks to a school just before midnight on Monday from a village hall where they previously received help from residents, health workers and others. One of the refugees who spoke some Malay and identified himself as Rosyid, told The Associated Press that they left a camp in Bangladesh at the end of November and drifted on the open sea. He said at least “20 of us died aboard due to high waves and sick, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.” Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, which works in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya, confirmed on Tuesday that the boat that landed on Ujong Pie beach on Monday was from the group of 190 Rohingya who were reported by United Nations to be drifting in a small boat in the Andaman Sea for a month. She told AP by email that the arrivals were among four groups of Rohingya refugees that had left Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh late November by smaller boats to avoid detection by local coast guards before they were transferred onto four larger boats for their respective journeys. A Vietnamese oil ship rescued one of the boats with more than 150 people onboard off the coast of Myanmar on Dec. 8, but then towed it to shore after provide them with food and water, Lewa said. In Dec. 18, the second boat, carrying 104 people, was rescued by the Sri Lankan navy. Lewa said the captain of that boat last week sent a message to his relative who lives at one of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar that the third boat may have sunk because he had received an “SOS call” from the third boat’s captain which was about to sink and asking him to transfer the passengers on his boat, but he refused as his overcrowded boat already had an engine problem and he feared that to transfer them would result in everyone sinking. READ: Vulnerable Rohingyas: US to consider resettlement recommendations from UNHCR The fourth boat “finally landed in northern part of Aceh, Indonesia, in late afternoon on Monday,” Lewa said, after weeks of her organization pleading with south and southeast Asian countries to help. The UNHCR on Friday urged countries to rescue the refugees, saying reports indicated they were in dire condition with insufficient food or water. “Many are women and children, with reports of up to 20 people dying on the unseaworthy vessel during the journey,” the agency said. Also in Christmas Day, another group of 58 Rohingya — all male, including 13 minors — arrived in Ladong village in Aceh Besar district. Azharul Husna, who heads the Aceh branch of KontraS, an Indonesian rights group, said Monday that the men in the group all carried UNHCR cards from refugee camps in Bangladesh and had left in search of a better life in Malaysia. Citing one of them, Husna said the 58 refugees left Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 Rohingya from Myanmar had fled in 2017, to work on plantations in Malaysia. Their boat was damaged and the engine failed, leaving them drifting at sea until they came ashore in Aceh. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and burning of thousands of homes belonging to Rohingya, sending them fleeing to Bangladesh and onward. Malaysia has been a common destination for many of the refugees arriving by boat, but they also have been detained in the country. Although neighboring Indonesia is not a signatory to the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, the UNHCR said that a 2016 presidential regulation provides a legal framework governing the treatment of refugees on boats in distress near Indonesia and helps them disembark.
Two Rohingyas were shot dead during what police called "a gunfight" at Ukhia camp in Cox’s Bazar on Friday night. The identities of the deceased could not be known yet, but they were Rohingyas, said Sheikh Mohammad Ali, Officer-in-Charge of Ukhiya police station. The incident occurred around 10 pm at Balukhali refugee camp when police went there upon receiving information about a gunfight between members of the Rohingya insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya militant Nabi Hossain’s group. Read more: Rohingya leader shot, stabbed to death in Cox’s Bazar Witnesses said the fighting Rohingyas started firing at police as they reached the camp and police also fired back. According to camp dwellers, one of the deceased was a resident of camp-8. OC Sheikh Mohammad Ali said the two groups were fighting for dominance in the camp. Read more: Rohingya man shot dead in Cox’s Bazar Efforts are on to identify the deceased Rohingyas and the others who managed to flee, he said.
International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Deputy Director General (DDG) for Operations Ugochi Daniels has advocated for greater efforts to jointly address climate change and human mobility at national, regional and global levels. “Ahead of COP 27, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure the climate change discourse reflects the climate migration nexus, and that this is recognized by the international community,” she said. DDG Daniels discussed the issues during her discussions with government officials and international humanitarian and development actors. The World Bank estimates that by 2050 one in every seven people in Bangladesh will have been displaced by climate change. Read:D-8 PTA likely to be operational this year to boost intra-trade
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in Dhaka on Saturday on a five-day visit to discuss the needs of the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char. Grandi last visited Bangladesh in March 2019. Grandi will meet with representatives of the government of Bangladesh to discuss the ongoing response for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char. He will also highlight the need for sustained international support when meeting with key donors and partners who support the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, said the UN refugee agency on Saturday. READ: No winners in war but countless lives to be torn apart: UNHCR During his visit to the camps and to Bhasan Char, Grandi will meet with Rohingya refugees to discuss their needs, challenges and hopes for the future. Grandi is accompanied on his visit by Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, and Herve de Villeroche, Senior Advisor to the High Commissioner.
Three Rohingya refugees who fled Bhasan Char have been detained and sent back, police said Friday. Locals nabbed the three in Mohammadpur union of the district's Subarnachar upazila on Wednesday evening and handed them over to the Char Jabbar police. Also Read: Ukhia camp: 6 Rohingyas burnt in gas cylinder fire The three Rohingyas have been identified as Khairul Amin, 21, son of Syedul Amin, Abdullah, 12, son of Md. Rafique, and Saiful Islam, 18, son of Abdul Khaleque. Ziaul Haque, officer-in-charge of Char Jabbar police station, said the detainees were handed over to Bhasan Char police on Thursday itself.
United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly T. Clements on Friday said Bhasan Char has the potential to become a temporary stay for the Rohingya refugees. She said there has been clear improvement in the conditions and availability of services since UNHCR and UN partners began supporting the government in October. However, its sustainability will depend on scaling up health and education services, improving access to livelihoods and income generating activities, and above all, continuing to ensure the voluntariness of relocations to the island and regular family visits to and from the mainland, Clements said. With return to Myanmar unlikely in the immediate future, UNHCR has underscored the need for a more comprehensive approach to humanitarian support. This includes alternative solutions for Rohingya refugees such as resettlement to third countries for the most vulnerable with specific protection needs, and complementary pathways overseas which could include employment and educational opportunities, said the UN refugee agency. Read: 15,000 people in Cox’s Bazar receive UNHCR’s aid1