Global body warns of looming food crisis in Rohingya camps

The World Food Programme needs $24 million a month to sustain its operations in Cox’s Bazar which includes $16 million to feed people. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2019

Global body warns of looming food crisis in Rohingya camps

  • The WFP needs $24 million a month to sustain its operations in Cox’s Bazar which includes $16 million to feed people

DHAKA: The world’s largest humanitarian organization on Wednesday made an urgent appeal for donations to help plug a $40 million (SR150 million) shortfall in funding to feed nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees.

With stocks expected to run out within two months, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned of an imminent food crisis in squalid camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh unless donors released more funds soon.

Hervé Verhoosel, spokesman for the UN’s food-assistance arm, told journalists in Geneva on Friday that it cost the organization about $16 million every month to feed the Rohingya refugees.  

The UN’s Joint Response Plan (JRP) was launched earlier this year to raise $920 million for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. According to the financial tracking system of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), only 38 percent of the target had been raised so far this year.

Out of the funds released by donors, around 35.8 percent were used for food security while 17.3 percent and 34.7 percent were allocated to health and nutrition respectively.

“We have two months’ worth of food in stock and have a funding shortfall of around $40 million for the period of August to January,” Gemma Snowdon, WFP spokeswoman at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.

“The JRP is only around one-third funded which means that the implementation of programs will suffer this year. Funding is always a concern for aid organizations, especially as we’re two years into this crisis,” she said.

The WFP needs $24 million a month to sustain its operations in Cox’s Bazar which includes $16 million to feed people. The organization also undertakes engineering and disaster risk-reduction work at the camps and runs nutrition, livelihoods and school feeding programs for the Rohingya refugees.

The funding shortfall has also created concern among other aid agencies which have been working on the ground there since August 2017.

“As the largest responder in all 34 camps, we have been working closely with the Inter Sector Coordination Group and working in every area of humanitarian assistance in the Rohingya camps. We will discuss the funding issues at the next JRP meeting which will take place shortly,” said Sajedur Hasan, director of BRAC, a Bangladeshi non-government organization.

BRAC has been working for the well-being of the Rohingya from the very beginning of the refugee crisis, employing more than 2,000 staff to provide humanitarian assistance.

“We don’t have any contingency plan regarding the food support program,” Hasan said.

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees at camps in Cox’s Bazar, after a majority of them fled the Myanmar army from their Rakhine state homeland in August 2017.


Malaysian charities attack envoy over ‘missing donations’ claim

A woman wearing a protective face mask crosses a bridge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 19, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 6 min 40 sec ago

Malaysian charities attack envoy over ‘missing donations’ claim

  • Aid for Al-Aqsa Mosque ‘unaccounted for,’ according to Palestinian ambassador

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian NGOs have demanded Palestinian Ambassador Walid Abu Ali apologize for his claim that donations they had collected to help restore Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem had gone missing.
NGOs are worried that public trust will be affected by the envoy’s “generalization and the grave accusation reported in the media,” Hafidzi Mohammed Noor, chairman of MyCARE, told Arab News on Friday.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador on Thursday over his claim two days earlier that donations intended for restoration work on Al-Aqsa Mosque “have been unaccounted for.”
“According to the Palestinian ambassador, his statement was based on records by the management of the Al-Aqsa Mosque since 2018. However, he could not confirm whether the donations were specifically to be channeled to Al-Aqsa Mosque Wakaf Department, which is managed by the Jordanian government,” the ministry said in a statement after Thursday’s meeting.
The ministry also expressed its appreciation for Malaysian NGOs’ efforts to help Palestinians.

HIGHLIGHT

Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassador on Thursday over his claim two days earlier.

“Malaysia will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Palestinian territories in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.
“We never channel our donations (directly) to Al-Aqsa Mosque because the mosque is under the stewardship of the Jordanian government, and it is well maintained by them,” said Faisal Aziz, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), which along with MyCARE was among the organizations that demanded that the envoy publicly apologize for his claim.
“All registered NGOs in Malaysia are monitored and have their financial reports audited,” Aziz told Arab News on Friday, adding that ABIM has been transparent with the money donated by Malaysian people.
All donations are transferred directly to local Palestinian NGOs, Aziz said.
A meeting between the Malaysian NGOs and the ministry is scheduled for next week.
The Palestinian ambassador was unavailable for comment when contacted by Arab News.