Two years ago this August, over 750,000 Rohingya people fled from their hometown in Myanmar in the face of ‘ethnic cleansing’ gripping the region.
The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, have continually been denied citizenship by the Myanmar authorities. They are considered to be illegal immigrants, despite living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for generations.
The crisis emerged following a spate of military crackdowns in which entire villages were burnt to the ground while civilians were mercilessly attacked, raped and killed.
It is estimated around 1.1 million displaced people now seek refuge in neighbouring country, Bangladesh, and live in huge refugee camps there. Bangladesh has since said it can no longer accept any more displaced people as the crisis has inflicted great economic strain onto Bangladeshi communities.
Yet Myanmar refuses to grant Rohingya people citizenship, allowing them only Free Movement if they accept a national ID card which many are refusing. So far, no-one has voluntarily returned home to Myanmar.
As solutions appear to have come to a standstill, the British Higher Commissioner Robert Dickson and DFID Bangladesh head, Judith Herbertson, met and announced in Dhaka on Sunday that more funding will be awarded to aid the displaced and local communities.
The Home Office announced a further £87 million – amounting to £226 million so far – will be going to support the Rohingya.
£20 million of which is being set aside to support the thousands of Bangladeshi families who have been negatively impacted by the surge of refugees living in their district. An estimated 50,000 people within the local community as well as 250,000 Rohingya refugees will have access to clean water and sanitation.
The support hopes to provide 450,000 refugees with protection and counselling support – notably towards aiding Rohingya women and girls who have been subjected to sexual violence and children that have survived abduction and trafficking.
The money will also be spent on 500,000 medical consultations to support 27 mobile health clinics which will work to identify and prevent disease outbreaks.
The funding is expected to cover the cost of food and other necessities for 10,000 refugees for a whole year and provide a further 150,000 families with containers to protect their food produce. Cooking gas will be provided to over 31,000 families to prevent further forest destruction too.
International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:
“It is hard to truly grasp the size of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya people. More than 700,000 were forced to flee their home in the face of horrific brutality.
“The UK has worked with the Government of Bangladesh to provide lifesaving aid, including food, water and shelter, as well education and counselling as they rebuild their lives.
“Women and girls represent over half of the camp population in Bangladesh, and this new funding will provide vital support for them, such as critical reproductive health care, and a new emergency shelter for survivors of severe gender-based violence and trafficking.
“This support announced today demonstrates our continued commitment to the Rohingya people.”
The British High Commissioner, Robert Chatterton Dickson, added:
“The UK and Bangladesh have a strong and enduring partnership, which continues to deepen as Bangladesh transitions to becoming a middle-income country.
“We greatly appreciate the remarkable generosity and humanity the government and the people of Bangladesh have shown in hosting the Rohingya people.
“The overarching aim must remain finding a solution to this crisis, so that the Rohingya can voluntarily return to Myanmar in safety and dignity. The UK remains committed to ensuring that conditions are put in place to allow this to happen.”
Judith Herbertson, head of DFIF Bangladesh said:
“Since August 2017, UK aid from British taxpayers has contributed £226 million to provide life-sustaining humanitarian assistance to almost one million Rohingya people.
“This additional £87 million will help deliver stability and security for the Rohingya and for vulnerable local communities in Cox’s Bazar who have been affected by the crisis.
“We appreciate the enormous generosity of the Government of Bangladesh and the people of Cox’s Bazar. And we pay tribute to all those working tirelessly to support the Rohingya living in the camps.”