The United Nations' Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has released a $9 million allocation to help over 943,000 Rohingya refugees staying in camps in Cox’s Bazar district and in the island of Bhasan Char, and over 17,800 members of the host community in Ukhiya and Teknaf.
This funding, allocated to six UN agencies – the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN Women - will help provide life-saving services to refugees and contribute to an enabling environment respectful of their rights and well-being.
Under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, the UN agencies through national and local partners will focus on four prioritised sectors – food security, non-food items, protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene.
This funding allocation will help maintain services and life-saving support to ensure equal access for refugees, who are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance, said a statement.
Commenting on the allocation of the funds, UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis said, "The UN in Bangladesh welcomes the decision of the Emergency Relief Coordinator to allocate these funds to the currently underfunded Rohingya Response to support refugees and the host community in their daily struggle for survival. In consultation with the government of Bangladesh and local NGOs, the money allocated from the CERF will help protect refugees, tackle gender-based violence, and contribute to an environment respectful of refugee rights and well-being."
The UNHCR will allocate the funding to its national and local partners to provide monthly Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders and refills to enhance food security, provide assistance to refugees, and help refugee volunteers to deliver life-saving community-led messaging.
IOM will also focus on LPG distribution, as well as community mobilization, training, and monitoring.
UNICEF will provide water, sanitation and hygiene services through local partners including national NGOs and the Department of Public Health Engineering. In addition, UNICEF will support the social service workforce to provide psychosocial support and life skills training to children, adolescents, and caregivers.
WFP will provide lifesaving food assistance and support to increase and sustain dietary diversity.
Through local partners, UNFPA will provide integrated services that prevent and respond to gender-based violence while also addressing sexual and reproductive health needs, including psycho-social support and referral services.
UN Women will provide life skills training and livelihood support and strengthen capacities of women's groups to provide multisectoral gender-based violence services.
The Rohingya people have faced systematic disenfranchisement, discrimination, and targeted persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for decades.
Persecution has repeatedly driven Rohingya refugees across the border into Bangladesh.
As of 31 August 2022, five years after the largest refugee influx from Myanmar into Bangladesh in August 2017, more than 943,000 Rohingya refugees are registered in Bangladesh as part of the Government-UNHCR joint registration exercise, residing in 33 extremely congested camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas of the Cox’s Bazar District, as well as on the island of Bhasan Char.
The situation of the Rohingya refugees remains concerning. WFP’s June 2022 Refugee Influx Emergency Vulnerability Assessment (REVA V) shows that 95% of all Rohingya households are moderate to highly vulnerable and remain entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance.
The impacts arising from the Ukraine crisis are also being felt in Bangladesh, where high levels of inflation, depreciating local currency and price hikes for basic goods and commodities have been recorded, heightening existing vulnerabilities among those already at risk, especially women and adolescent girls.
Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic and socio-economic impacts of this latest influx have increased the strain on the refugee community. As a result, service delivery and critical protection interventions in the refugee camps have been greatly affected.
Due to the congestion in the Cox’s Bazar camps, funding gaps in critical areas lead to increased challenges.
For example, disruption in the provision of LPG and food assistance would lead to deforestation and increased protection concerns; without adequate and sustained access to WASH services, public health risks such Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) and cholera will continue to rise and deteriorate; the location and congested nature of shelters and facilities in the Cox’s Bazar camps exacerbate the risks of fires, landslides and flooding.
CERF is a mechanism through which donors pool their contributions in advance, allowing humanitarian agencies to provide initial, life-saving assistance wherever crises strike while they await additional funding.