Rohingyas in Bangladesh
The government of Japan and UNHCR have signed an agreement for the protection and assistance of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The contribution of US$ 4.5 million [JPY 600 million] will be used for reinforcement of life-saving and life-sustaining services by improving the livelihood of refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char. An exchange of notes was signed on Wednesday by Iwama Kiminori, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, and Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh, said the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka on Wednesday. Also Read: Japanese PM's special advisor for human rights issues visits Bangladesh "This new contribution from the government of Japan for some of UNHCR’s essential protection and assistance programs as well as livelihood activities in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char comes at a critical time now that we are facing a looming funding crisis already manifest in reduced refugee access to food”, said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh. He said Japan is once more at the forefront of supporting UNHCR programmes in Bangladesh. “We hope this contribution will also serve as a catalyst for other donors to follow suit”. During his visit to Cox's Bazar last month, Ambassador Iwama said he was impressed by the use of information technology for the joint management of the registration for Rohingya refugees by the Government of Bangladesh and UNHCR. “I was also delighted to witness strengthened livelihood assistance in collaboration with a Japanese company, where Rohingya women produce sanitary goods. We will continue to engage in the solution for a voluntary, safe and sustainable return , and will cooperate with UNHCR and other humanitarian partners to achieve better living conditions for refugees and host communities.” said H.E. Iwama Kiminori, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh,” he said. Also Read: Japan to provide grant aid for 2 projects Ambassador Iwama expressed his hope that the support from the government of Japan would improve living conditions of both Rohingya and local communities. “Also, I was profoundly touched by the tireless activities of the Government of Bangladesh, the UN agencies, and NGOs. I recognized the need for continuous support for them, and we will commit to that,” he said. Since the large influx in August 2017, Japan has contributed over US$ 204 million to various interventions in Cox's Bazar as well as in Bhasan Char through international organizations and NGOs. This assistance includes food assistance, healthcare, WASH, shelter, protection, and gender.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has welcomed the generous contribution of Euro 3 million by the government of Italy for the continued protection and humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The announcement was made today by Enrico Nunziata, Ambassador of Italy in Bangladesh, and Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative. This contribution from the government and the people of Italy will help UNHCR continue providing lifesaving protection and assistance for almost one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who remain reliant on humanitarian assistance for survival. This includes access to health, water and sanitation, as well as crucial protection services, and also support for refugees’ education and skills development, particularly for women and children, said Johannes van der Klaauw. Read: More Rohingya female teachers need training for increasing literacy among their community “This generous contribution from Italy, which comes from its foreign policy budget, highlights the longer-term nature of this commitment and is all the more welcome now that we anticipate significant reduction in financial support from the international community,” he added. The grant of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is a contribution to the activities of the Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh and UNHCR on Rohingya’s protection as set up in the Joint Response Plan, in line with the commitment of the Italian government to maintain access to critical and life-sustaining services for refugees living both in Cox’s Bazar camps and on Bhasan Char. Italy praises the efforts and generosity of the Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh in hosting hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees within its territory. “Since the beginning of the Rohingya refugee crisis in August 2017, Italy has constantly given its contribution through main international organizations and UN agencies," said Enrico Nunziata. Read: UK continues to push for a long-term solution through safe repatriation of Rohingyas: Dickson The contribution from Italy will enable UNHCR to provide protection services such as registration, access to justice, support for survivors of gender-based violence, community-based protection and child-friendly spaces, said UNHCR in a media release on Wednesday. It will also empower the refugee communities, through education, by training teachers to implement the Myanmar curriculum in the camps, and through skills development for women, to improve their resilience until they can return to Myanmar. The funds will also support the delivering of essential services, such as shelter, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, as well as the provision of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a safe and clean source of cooking energy, a key contributor in the prevention of degradation of the environment in and around the camps. Five years after being forced to flee violence in Myanmar, some 920,000 Rohingya refugees are currently hosted in densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar, with an additional 30,000 refugees residing on Bhasan Char.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has sent a message of sympathy to his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen, MP, following the devastating fire that blazed through the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar recently. “I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news of the massive fire that swept through the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar on Monday, causing loss of lives, destroying homes, and displacing thousands of refugees," he said on Wednesday. Also read: Rohingya camp fire: Death toll climbs to 11 The government and the people of the Maldives, joined him in conveying their profound sympathy and condolences to the government and the people of Bangladesh, and the Rohingyas directly impacted by this tragic incident, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives. Also read: Rohingya camp fire: Humanitarian community calls for compassion "I sincerely hope that the efforts of the response teams continue swiftly and successfully, and wish speedy recovery for those affected by this calamity," the message reads.
Those involved in the blaze at the Balukhali Rohingya camp in Ukhia upazila of Cox's Bazar would be brought under the law, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said during a brief stopover at a Rohingya camp in Ukhia on Wednesday afternoon. An investigation committee has been formed. They will investigate and submit a report to the government. If any misconduct or negligence found in the report government will take necessary steps. Also read: Rohingya camp fire: Death toll climbs to 11 The minister said the government had no plans to relocate those who had lost their homes in the fire to Bhasanchar. No Rohingya will be forcibly taken to Bhasanchar. However, Bhasan Char is now a much developed place. If the people, who have lost home by fire, want to go there government must take them there. Also read: Fire at Rohingya camp caused 'enormous devastation': UNICEF He mentioned that the first step of the government is to send the Rohingyas back to their country Myanmar. Bangladesh hopes that the world community will play a role in sending the Rohingya back to their Myanmar. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan arrived at the Rohingya camp by helicopter at afternoon. He visited the fire affected Rohingya camps and distributed clothes to the affected. Later he spoke to the affected Rohingyas in Balukhali camp. The minister expressed his sorrow over the blaze and assured assistance to all the victims. Also read: Rohingya camp fire: Humanitarian community calls for compassion On March 22, 11 Rohingyas were killed in a devastating fire at five Rohingya camps in Balukhali of Ukhia upazila. About 10,000 were burned and 45 thousand Rohingyas lost their houses.
The humanitarian community has called for compassion for Rohingyas in Bangladesh as a massive fire ravaged through camps leaving thousands destitute. "We’re calling for a show of compassion and solidarity towards the Rohingya refugee population during this very difficult time," the community said in a joint press statement on Tuesday night. Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) issued the joint press statement. It said they are deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh left destitute by the fire that raged through four camps on March 22. Fire services and civil defence, emergency and response teams and aid agencies rushed to the areas affected by the fire and helped move refugees to safer locations, the statement reads. "Tragically, reports from the camps indicate that at least 11 people are said to have lost their lives in the fire and more than 500 others have been injured. Around 400 people are unaccounted for," it said. Also read: Rohingya camp fire: Death toll climbs to 11 The government authorities and aid agencies worked throughout the night to help those impacted and assess damages in the camps. The refugees who fled the fires are taking shelter in various locations. Many are staying with relatives or in learning and transit centres which are accommodating the most vulnerable people. The government of Bangladesh and aid agencies are providing water, hot meals and high energy biscuits as well as emergency healthcare to those affected. The fire consumed shelters and personal belongings of refugees as well as essential facilities such as hospitals, primary health facilities, learning centres, and women-friendly spaces in the camps. "Teams on the ground say the scale and intensity of the fire is unlike anything seen before in the camps," the statement said. Also read: Fire at Rohingya camp caused 'enormous devastation': UNICEF Some 24 hours into the response, preliminary assessments by aid agencies have found that some 10,000 Rohingya refugee families (approximately 45,000 persons) were displaced and a similar number of shelters have been damaged or destroyed in the camps as a result of the fire. Assessments are still ongoing. "As the humanitarian response continues, healthcare and mental health support is being provided to those who’ve been injured or experienced stress as well as first line responders." Moving forward, it said, the priority will be to reunite families and children who were separated during the fire and the subsequent movements to safe places, as well as to identify and support persons with specific needs, such as older persons, pregnant women and persons with disabilities. Aid agencies are also monitoring the safety conditions of refugees to mitigate risks, as they remain vulnerable to incidents of theft, harassment, and exploitation. Another priority for authorities and humanitarian actors will be to replace the key documentation that Rohingya refugees lost in the fire, it said. Rescue efforts proved to be challenging as a result of the presence of perimeter fencing. In some instances, refugees themselves cut through the fence to escape the fire. Also read: Fire breaks out at Rohingya camp in Ukhiya Limited mobile connectivity in the camps also hampered the ability of refugees to call for immediate assistance and contact their families, the statement said. "It also continues to limit the coordination of the aid response." Refugee volunteers are playing an invaluable role in the response. They are the first responders, helping people to safety, supporting fire response efforts and continue to work to support aid efforts on the ground. The humanitarian community is urging the public to respect privacy of those Rohingya refugee families who have either lost family members or have been impacted by fires.
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