UN experts condemn cut in Rohingya food rations
UN experts today condemned a second cut in food rations for Rohingyas in Bangladesh effective today, after a funding shortfall of $56 million compelled the World Food Programme to enforce the cuts.
The cuts will reduce the value of rations provided to Rohingya refugees to US$8 per month, or 27 cents per day, according to a statement of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
This move follows an earlier reduction implemented in March 2023 from US$12 per month to US$10 per month.
The experts warned that the cuts will have devastating consequences for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and make life in the camps even more untenable.
They implored UN member states to urgently fund the humanitarian response in Bangladesh, ensuring the restoration of full rations for refugees.
The ration cuts affect approximately one million Rohingya totally dependent of aid in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, the majority of whom arrived in Bangladesh after fleeing genocidal attacks in Myanmar in 2016 and 2017.
Even prior to the first round of rations cuts, health indicators for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh were grim. Forty-five percent of Rohingya families were not eating a sufficient diet. Forty percent of Rohingya children experienced stunted growth, and more than half suffered from anaemia.
Cyclone Mocha, which made landfall in western Myanmar on 14 May, damaged or destroyed the shelters of approximately 40,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, exacerbating suffering and adding to budgetary needs.
"Member States must urgently act to close the 56 million dollar funding shortfall for food rations that have led to these cuts. Those that have announced or are contemplating cuts in funding should reverse course. Member States that have not yet provided financial support to the Rohingya should do so without delay," the experts said.
"The failure to provide Rohingya families in Bangladesh with sustainable levels of food is a stain on the conscience of the international community. They are in Bangladesh not by choice, but because of genocidal attacks by the Myanmar military," the experts said.
They said many governments, including the governments of wealthy countries, have offered strong rhetorical support for the Rohingya but have failed to contribute a single penny toward humanitarian relief in Bangladesh.
The US$876 million Rohingya Humanitarian Joint Response Plan remains desperately neglected and currently is only 24 per cent funded.
"These States must now get out their chequebooks and work towards durable solutions. It is time to match words with action," the experts said.
UN Resident Coordinator's office in Bangladesh in a separate statement said with reduced food vouchers, the Rohingya refugees face grim choices to make ends meet. Parents are already eating less and skipping meals so that their children can eat.
"We urgently appeal for international support. Only 24.6 percent of the Rohingya response is funded to provide basic health services, nutrition, food, and education for refugees who do not have any other source of support," said UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis.