UN refugee agency UNHCR has sought an initial emergency aid of US$ 30 million for Rohingyas, two days after it jointly launched with UN’s migration organization IOM an appeal for enhanced global assistance as surges of refugee continued to hit Bangladesh.
“Based on the numbers of arrivals and needs assessments made by (our) field staff, UNHCR urgently requires additional funds to meet the immediate needs of new arrivals and to provide protection and life-saving assistance,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing yesterday at UN’s Geneva office.
He said the current situation was “one of the fastest growing refugee crises of recent years” and “created enormous humanitarian needs in an area of Bangladesh already affected by earlier refugee influxes”.
The UNHCR official said the influx began while Bangladesh was trying to mitigate the debacles caused by recent floods, a situation when the country was “not equipped to cope with large number of new arrivals”.
Mahecic said UNHCR found the Myanmar refugees to be in “real hardship” and “some of the most difficult conditions seen in any current refugee situation”.
“In response to the unfolding crisis, over the past three weeks UNHCR has emptied its warehouses in Bangladesh to assist the newly arrived stateless Rohingya refugees,” he said.
The UNHCR official said the first 15 of 35 scheduled trucks arrived in Cox’s Bazar on Friday with succor, being delivered to Kutupalong and Nayapara Rohingya camps and other sites in south-eastern Bangladesh while delivery of more relief materials were flown to the scene earlier this week.
“Priority in distribution is given to shelter materials and basic aid items as thousands of new arrivals are struggling to find even rudimentary protection from the elements,” he said.
Mahecic said many Rohingya refugee families were sleeping rough on roadsides and riverbanks while “we are also witnessing remarkable generosity of Bangladeshi communities in Teknaf and elsewhere who have been welcoming refugees into their homes and sharing resources with them”.
Earlier on September 14, UNHCR and IOM launched the joint appeal seeking enhanced humanitarian assistance for fleeing Rohingyas, fearing their number could exceed a million as surges of the minority ethnic community from Myanmar continued to hit Bangladesh.
“We urge the international community to step up humanitarian support and come up with help,” UN’s Organisation for Migration’s (IOM) operations director Mohammed Abdiker told news conference jointly with UNHCR’s George Okoth-Obbo in the capital.
The statement added: “We fear the Rohingya influx in Bangladesh may reach 0ne million (10 lakh) by this year if the refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state continues.”