Na­tions pledge $345 mil­lion to refugee re­sponse

Mizzima Business Weekly - - IN FOCUS -

Na­tions have pledged $345 mil­lion (294 mil­lion eu­ros) to care for Myan­mar’s Ro­hingya refugees in Bangladesh, an “en­cour­ag­ing” step in the re­sponse to the in­ten­si­fy­ing cri­sis, the UN said 23 Oc­to­ber. Many of the funds for the mi­nor­ity Mus­lim group, who have fled from vi­o­lence in the north­ern part of Myan­mar’s Rakhine state, were promised at a high-level con­fer­ence in Geneva, co-hosted by the United Na­tions, the Euro­pean Union and Kuwait.The UN says it needs $434 mil­lion to pro­vide sup­port through Fe­bru­ary for the 900,000 Ro­hingya who have fled across the bor­der, as well as the 300,000 lo­cal Bangladeshis host­ing the in­flux.

UN hu­man­i­tar­ian chief Mark Low­cock called the haul “en­cour­ag­ing” and praised donors who “ex­pressed their sol­i­dar­ity and com­pas­sion with the fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in need.” Some of the money was prom- ised in the run up to the con­fer­ence and Low­cock said he ex­pected more com­mit­ments in the com­ing days. A group of na­tions had also of­fered $50 mil­lion of in-kind do­na­tions. Low­cock stressed the im­por­tance of coun­tries ac­tu­ally de­liv­er­ing the cash, with the UN hav­ing con­fronted un­ful­filled pledges in past crises.

“Pledges are one thing,” he told re­porters. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to us that the pledges are trans­lated as soon as pos­si­ble into con­tri­bu­tions”. Among the 35 na­tions and blocs that promised funds were Bri­tain ($63 mil­lion) the EU ($42 mil­lion), the United States ($38 mil­lion) and Swe­den ($24 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the UN. With no ap­par­ent res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis in sight, Low­cock noted that there may be a need to raise more funds again next year. The head of the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion, William Lacey Swing, called the wave of Ro­hingya flee­ing to Bangladesh “the fastest grow­ing refugee cri­sis in the world.” “It is, in its own way, a night­mare,” he added.

Bangladesh’s gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­nity in the Cox’s Bazar area on the Myan­mar bor­der have been broadly praised for the re­sponse to Ro­hingya refugee in­flux, no­tably for keep­ing the bor­der open. More than 600,000 Ro­hingya refugees have headed for Bangladesh in huge num­bers since late Au­gust after mil­i­tant at­tacks on Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces in Rakhine sparked a ma­jor army crack­down on the com­mu­nity likened to eth­nic cleans­ing by the UN. Ro­hingyas have been sys­tem­at­i­cally de­prived of ba­sic rights over decades in ma­jor­ity Bud­dhist Myan­mar. In the lat­est crack­down, Myan­mar’s se­cu­rity forces have fired in­dis­crim­i­nately on un­armed civil­ians, in­clud­ing chil­dren, and com­mit­ted wide­spread sex­ual vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

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