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.