UN to launch inter-agency appeal to fund Rohingyas

UN to launch inter-agency appeal to fund Rohingyas

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Fate of other 68 Rohingyas on boat remains unknown, says IOM
Dhaka, Sept 29 – The UN will launch an updated inter-agency appeal in the coming week as lack of funding to address the needs of Rohingyas in Bangladesh remains one of the biggest challenges, said the UN Migration Agency on Friday. Most of the half a million newly arrived Rohingya live in Kutupalong and the surrounding hillocks in tent cities and overcrowded make-shift settlement, said the IOM.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is leading the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar. Emergency response in these settlements is being scaled up to meet the enormous health, safety and security needs, but the needs far outstrip the current capacity in country.
IOM is also conducting site planning for the new temporary displacement site on the land allocated by the government of Bangladesh near the Kutupalong makeshift settlement, as well as allocating and building up site management capacity in the existing makeshift and new spontaneous sites.
Meanwhile, a boat packed with approximately 100 Rohingya desperately escaping violence in Myanmar capsized in the rough seas of the Bay of Bengal on Thursday evening while en route to Bangladesh.
The bodies of 15 Rohingya — nine children, five adult women and one adult man — were recovered off the shores of Ukhiya, Bangladesh, near the village of Shamlapur.
Local community members saw the boat capsize and were able to immediately launch rescue operations. Fire service and civil defence, as well as Shamlapur community members, rescued some 17 people – ten of whom have been hospitalised.
IOM’s local team travelled to the scene to see what immediate support was required by survivors and to assess how IOM, the UN Migration Agency could respond.
IOM staff found Fatima, a 22-year-old female survivor, in a local grocery shop.
They approached her and sensitively asked her in the Ukhiya dialect, which is very similar to her own, if she needed help. Still in shock, she was waiting as the rescue operations continued but gradually, she recounted what happened.
Fatima said among the rescued children, who have not been hospitalised, one is hers and five are her neighbours’ children.
Fatima also said one of her own children, a baby of eight months, drowned during the capsize and that her 35-year-old husband, Abdul, is one of the ten people, who had been hospitalised.
Fatima’s mother-in-law, 55 years old, also drowned, as was her 30-year-old sister-in-law and her 4-year-old child. She said they had boarded the boat on Wednesday evening and have been on the boat for about a day.
Leaving their village in Myanmar, they walked for two nights and two days to reach the place, where the boat embarked from. There were about 100 people on board – although it could be more – of whom, she said the majority were children. They had been floating in the sea all night (27/09) with no food.
Afraid of being detected by authorities, the captain did not try to anchor the boat near the shore until late Thursday afternoon. He has been searching for an unguarded point.
At 5:00pm (Bangladesh) on Thursday, while trying to anchor the boat, and given the rough sea from torrential rain and wind, he lost control of the boat and it capsized. The incident happened very close to the shore but the water was still deep.
Local community members saw the boat capsize and were able to immediately launch rescue operations. The boat was destroyed and washed away.
“These people thought they had finally arrived to safety but died before even touching land,” said Abdullah Al Mamoun, one of the IOM staff members who travelled to the scene, where he saw the bodies.
Fatima said the captain was a Bangladeshi man and was missing since the incident.
She also said the amount they were meant to pay for the journey was not fixed but that they were meant to pay the caption once he got them to safety and before getting off the boat, which never happened.
The IOM team liaised with local authorities and other UN agencies to ensure the survivors, who did not need to be hospitalised, had somewhere to go.
They are now being taken care by a member of the local civil council. This is a temporary arrangement and longer-term assistance and shelter is currently being discussed.
The fate of the other approximately 68 Rohingya on the boat remains unknown as torrential wind and rain continues, said the IOM statement issued from Cox’s Bazar.
Community members, police, border control and fire service are all still on the scene as they are still expecting the remains of more victims to wash up on the shore. They are also hoping to rescue more survivors.
The Shamlapur fishing village, some 35 kilometres south of Cox’s Bazar, is where many Rohingya have settled in makeshift homes during past influxes – now living amongst the Bengal community.
Since violence flared on August 25, at least 518,000 Rohingya have fled from Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Rohingyas enter the country through a variety of crossing points, including land and marine routes in coastal areas on the Bay of Bengal, as well as over the Naf River in Teknaf, a sub-district of Cox’s Bazar.
Now in the midst of monsoon, this journey is especially hazardous and deadly as this tragedy underscores. – UNB

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