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6 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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UNHCR bats for more support to Rohingyas, hosts

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT

United Nations high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi has called for greater international support and solidarity for the nearly one million (10 lakh) Rohingya people and their Bangladeshi hosts at conclusion of his visit to the country this week. He travelled to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar together with UN secretary-general António Guterres, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim and UNFPA executive director Natalia Kanem to rally support for what was the world’s fastest-growing refugee emergency in 2017, said a UNHCR press release yesterday.

Starting on Sunday, the UN high officials met with prime minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, thanking the government and people of Bangladesh for their response, protection and shelter for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. They also discussed the continued support of the international community for refugees and the Bangladeshi communities hosting them.

“In a world in which borders are closing down in front of people seeking asylum, Bangladesh has generously kept its borders open to Rohingya refugees. This is a lesson in humanity to many other countries in the world that are doing exactly the opposite,” said the high commissioner.

On Monday (2 July), the delegation travelled to Cox’s Bazar in south-east Bangladesh where they met Rohingya people living at the Kutupalong site - the world’s largest refugee settlement. The settlement is now home to more than 600,000 (6 lakh) Rohingyas , most of whom fled Bangladesh since August last year.

The joint UN delegation met newly arrived refugees from Myanmar at a UNHCR supported transit centre that currently receives around 50 new arrivals a week. They also visited a women’s friendly space, a primary health centre and a newly levelled area where the UNHCR and partners have safely relocated hundreds of refugees threatened by monsoon rains that cause landslides and floods.

“We are continuing to run an emergency response which has been compounded by the urgency of reinforcing shelters and relocating people during the monsoon,” the high commissioner said while also emphasising the need for addressing medium-term issues for the refugees and host community after rains end. Extending his stay in Bangladesh, he visited an integrated primary health centre and a learning centre for children at the Kutupalong settlement, and met with refugee volunteers involved in community outreach.

Most of some 900,000 (9 lakh) Rohingya persons now in Bangladesh fled violence in Myanmar since August last year. Ten months into their displacement, addressing their needs, particularly in the fields of health and education, is becoming a key focus of the humanitarian response. Grandi concluded his visit at the overstretched sadar district hospital in Cox’s Bazar, where he witnessed first-hand the challenges facing local health facilities. The hospital is generously open to refugees as well as the local community but is now operating at twice its capacity.

To date, the UN’s joint response plan for the Rohingya situation in Bangladesh is funded at only 26 per cent. The UNHCR expressed its gratefulness for the generous support of state and private donors so far, but urged for more funds urgently needed to support refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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