DHAKA: Bangladesh has appealed for more funding from Gulf countries and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to help Rohingya refugees in the country, an official in Cox’s Bazar told Arab News on Thursday, following a cut in UN food rations earlier this year.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mizanur Rahman, who is the Bangladesh government’s representative in Cox’s Bazar, made the comments in a telephone interview with Arab News.
This comes as a joint delegation from the OIC and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the Gulf is visiting refugee camps in the South Asian nation this week. The trip is aimed at addressing “the issue of the Rohingya and mobilize more financial resources to support the Rohingya in Bangladesh,” the OIC said in a statement.
Since the beginning of June, the World Food Programme’s aid for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has been cut to $8 per month, or 27 cents a day. The UN body, citing a lack of funding, first reduced the rations in March from $12 to $10.
The cuts are affecting more than 1 million Rohingya people who escaped deadly violence and persecution in neighboring Myanmar, most of whom fled to neighboring Bangladesh during a military crackdown in 2017.
Rahman said: “We appealed to the delegation for more funding from Gulf countries and OIC members.”
He added: “The delegation wanted to know the latest situation of the Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar, especially in the context of the latest fund crisis,” he said. “The delegation promised to stand beside the Bangladesh government.”
The delegation also included representatives from Gulf aid agencies, Rahman said, including the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the Qatar Fund for Development, which “are already working here for the well-being of the Rohingya.”
The Rohingya live in the squalid camps of Cox’s Bazar district — the world’s largest refugee settlement — where they cannot be legally employed to earn a livelihood because Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
The OIC’s Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, who visited the refugee camps in May, said then that the Rohingya issue is a top priority for the body.
The visit of the delegation this week was organized by the UNHCR to address the latest Rohingya funding crisis, said Mia Mainul Kabir, director-general at Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for Myanmar.
“It’s aimed at accelerating the funding for the Rohingya as the recent fund crunch has forced the World Food Programme to cut the monthly food aid,” Kabir told Arab News.
Though many donors have come forward with funding, the WFP’s Country Director in Bangladesh Dom Scalpelli said last month that what has been received was “simply not enough.”