DHAKA, 16 Sept – Host communities and aid agencies are struggling to cope with the enormous demand for food, shelter and other assistance in Bangladesh’s southern district of Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled to in the past three weeks.
The mass displacement follows an alarming escalation of violence in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, where there have been disturbing reports of homes being burned and hundreds of people, including children, being killed.
“The scale of the influx of Rohingya arriving in Cox’s Bazar is unprecedented and it’s putting huge stress on host communities and humanitarian agencies, particularly when you consider there were already more than 380,000 displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh before these last three weeks,” said Save the Children’s Country Director in Bangladesh, Mark Pierce.
“Many people are arriving hungry, exhausted and with no food or water, having left their homes in fear of their lives. I’m particularly worried that the demand for food, shelter, water and basic hygiene support is not being met due to the sheer number of people in need. If families can’t meet their basic needs, the suffering will get even worse and lives could be lost.
“The efforts of the Government of Bangladesh need to be recognized, having generously allowed more than 750,000 Rohingya into the country including those who were here prior to the last three weeks. That number could rise beyond one million by the end of the year if the influx continues, including about 600,000 children, according to UN agencies.
“Local communities have been extremely accommodating, often welcoming the Rohingya into their homes and sharing precious food and water. Aid agencies are doing all we can to help, however the humanitarian response needs to be rapidly scaled up, and that can only be done if the international community steps up funding.”
Save the Children is calling on the international community to fully fund a US$77 million emergency appeal to help the newly arrived Rohingya in southern Bangladesh. The children’s aid agency is pleased that Canada’s initial $2.55m contribution, announced yesterday, includes dedicated funding for children and families, including food assistance, water purification tablets, and protection activities to support psychological and emotional needs of children.
“Canada’s initial contribution comes at a critical period when funds are urgently needed. As an aid agency on the ground in Bangladesh and Myanmar, we are pleased at the timeliness of Canada’s first funding announcement, and urge other donors to follow Canada’s lead, particularly as many humanitarian agencies scale up operations in response to growing need.”
With the numbers of displaced children and families increasing daily and aid agencies stretched to respond with limited resources, Save the Children says an increase in funds is desperately needed.
“The sheer scale of this crisis means much more help is needed. We hope to see additional support from both the Canadian government and the public as the needs continue to increase.”
Save the Children has been supporting the long-term needs of displaced Rohingya families in and around Cox’s Bazar prior to the outbreak of violence on August 25. The aid agency is now scaling up its relief work, and has distributed hundreds of shelter kits, set up ‘child friendly spaces’ to support children’s emotional wellbeing and provide a safe space to play, and is running child protection services and providing support to unaccompanied children. It is working to expand these operations significantly.
Spokespeople available in the region. For media interviews or other media inquiries contact:
Annie Bodmer-Roy, Ottawa, 1 613 854 9074
Evan Schuurman, Bangkok, on +66 989 725
Notes to editor:
- Save the Children Canada is mobilizing funds to support the global humanitarian response to the crisis. Individuals able to contribute to our humanitarian efforts can donate to the Emergency Response Fund
- In Rakhine State, Myanmar, Save the Children provides assistance to both Rohingya living in camps for internally placed people in Sittwe and in Pauktaw, and for Rakhine communities in Pauktaw. Save the Children does not have access to the areas of northern Rakhine State which are affected by conflict.
- The one million figure is taken from public comments made by multiple UN agencies (UNHCR and IOM), and is made up from approximately 300,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh prior to October 2016, plus 87,000 new arrivals between October 2016 and July 2017 plus approximately 400,000 new arrivals since August 25, 2017, totaling approximately 787,000. According to current rates (approximately 19,000 new arrivals per day over the past three weeks), it is highly likely the total number of Rohingya will reach one million in Bangladesh by the end of 2017.
- The ratio of Rohingya children used is 60 percent, based on UNICEF estimates that 60 percent of the 400,000 newly arrived Rohingya in Bangladesh are children, which matches assessment data from December 2016 regarding Rohingya arrivals from October and November 2016. This ratio has then been applied to existing Rohingya in Bangladesh and those expected to arrive in Bangladesh by the end of the year.
For additional information please contact Annie Bodmer-Roy:
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