Amid the risks of a delayed Rohingya repatriation over coronavirus and unrest in Myanmar, donors yesterday pledged $340m for the Rohingyas and host community in Cox's Bazar for 2021.
Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), coordination body for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, said, "Some $340 million has been committed towards the 2021 JRP by the international community so far, amounting to more than 35 percent of the total requirements."
Of the funding, the US has announced providing nearly $155m, making the total US humanitarian assistance for this response to more than $1.3 billion since 2017, including more than $1.1 billion for programs inside Bangladesh.
Up to $2.32 billion in funds have been committed to successive JRPs since the outset of the crisis in 2017. This amounts to 69 percent of total the financial requirements needed to protect and assist the Rohingya refugee population and host communities in the last four years.
This year, the fund pledged is 35 percent of what has been sought in the 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis launched by the Bangladesh government, UN, and other aid agencies via a virtual donor conference from Geneva yesterday.
Last year, the UN appealed for more than $1 billion to meet the needs of the Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox's Bazar. At the end of 2020, this appeal was just 59.4 percent funded.
Aid agencies made the united call on the international community to step up support to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, which has now entered its fourth year.
The JRP seeking $943 million is to meet the needs of over 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas in Cox's Bazar district.
In total, the JRP aims to protect and assist 1.4 million people this year. More than half of this population are women and children.
"The appeal focuses on strengthening the protection of Rohingya refugees, delivering quality lifesaving assistance to those in need, fostering the well-being of the communities surrounding the camps, and helping Rohingya refugees build their skills and capacities towards sustainable return and reintegration in Myanmar, on a voluntary basis, when conditions allow them to do so, in safety and in dignity," said ISCG in a statement.
The most commonly reported needs among the host communities include access to food as well as cash, along with essential health services, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and associated measures needed to mitigate the spread of the virus on food security and livelihoods among the people of Bangladesh, it said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has compounded vulnerabilities for them as well as Rohingya refugees.
"More than 40 percent of this year's financial appeal focuses on two of the most basic and critical human needs, food security and health," says Nicole Epting, senior coordinator for the ISCG.
In addition, the priorities for this year include water, sanitation and hygiene, wider health needs including sexual and reproductive health with a focus on women and girls, education, and addressing the protection concerns of the Rohingya refugee population in the camps.
UN Refugee Agency Head Filippo Grandi appealed to the global community to show compassion and solidarity with the Rohingyas and continue supporting Bangladesh who has generously sheltered and is bearing the brunt of it.