Commitment to save Rohingyas a must

By Special Correspondent

Describing terrible sufferings of Rohingyas staying in the camps of Cox’s Bazar, the International Organization for Migration [IOM] has warned that if adequate resources are not mobilized by the international community thousands would suffer without food, shelter and health care.
The IOM is now coordinating the humanitarian response to the crisis in Bangladesh in support of the Bangladesh government's efforts.
It’s Director General William Lacy Swing, who on Wednesday completed a three-day visit to Bangladesh, said: “I saw women carrying small babies, only a few days old, sometimes born while their young mothers were fleeing deadly violence in torrential rains. I saw young children, who had lost not just their parents, but any remnants of hope. We must make a commitment to these women and children, who are among the most vulnerable in the world, that we will do everything in our ability to ensure that their suffering stops here.”
The IOM DG said, “If adequate resources are not mobilized by the international community, we cannot make that commitment. Thousands will suffer without food, shelter, health care and protection,” said.
“IOM, the Government of Bangladesh and our partners have made a commitment to strengthen support to Rohingyas. Now it is time for the international community to echo that support,” Swing noted.

 “The needs on the ground are enormous, in quantity and complexity. I am impressed by the Government of Bangladesh’s mobilization of its own resources, as well as the local community’s support, from identifying land to be converted into settlements to providing food, water and healthcare to Rohingyas. We cannot forget, who the first responders to this emergency were and who remains on the frontline of the response – Bangladeshis,” said Swing.
Swing also highlighted the critical importance of a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Myanmar, based on the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State established by Myanmar’s Office of the State Counsellor and the Kofi Annan Foundation.
“Humanitarian aid alone is not a solution. The root causes of this crisis are in Myanmar and there can be no lasting peace in Rakhine without inclusive development. We see the recommendations as a roadmap to peaceful co-existence and welcome the Myanmar Government’s commitment to implementing the Commission’s findings. The first step in that implementation process will be to urgently allow UN agencies to resume their work in Rakhine State,” he said.
Meanwhile, three top UN personalities, including Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees[UNHCR], Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration[IOM] have made an appeal to the international community to express solidarity to the displaced Rohingyas.
In a joint statement issued on Monday, they said every day more vulnerable people arrive with very little -- if anything – and settle either in overcrowded existing camps or extremely congested makeshift sites.
They are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health and other essential needs. Basic services are under severe strain. In some sites, there is no access to potable water, and sanitation facilities are absent, raising health risks for both the refugees and the communities hosting them, the statement continued.
“We call on the international community to intensify efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the plight of the Rohingya, to end the desperate exodus, to support host communities and ensure the conditions that will allow for refugees’ eventual voluntary return in safety and dignity. The origins and, thus, the solutions to this crisis lie in Myanmar.”
“Let us all come together on 23 October at the pledging conference and send a strong message to the Rohingya refugees and their generous hosts in Bangladesh that the world is there for them in their greatest time of need,” the statement said.
It is to be noted that, a Pledging Conference in Geneva on 23 October 2017 is being organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], International Organization for Migration [IOM] and UNHCR and co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait.
According to UN officials, the meeting would urge governments from around the world to show their solidarity and share the burden and responsibility. The international support for the US$434 million Joint Response Plan, which was recently launched by the UN and partners, is urgently needed to sustain and scale up the large humanitarian effort, they said.
Officials of the Cox’s Bazar district administration said much more assistance, especially basic shelter, is urgently needed to tackle the situation. It is estimated that 72% of the total Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar is residing in the camps of Ukhiya upazila.
A recent assessment conducted by Needs and population monitoring [NPM] found that the majority of the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar is between 18 to 59 years old [37%] and 6 to 17 years old [28%]. There is almost equal proportion of Male [49%] and Female [51%] both for the total as well as for each of the age group category [+/- 1%].
The assessment highlighted lactating mothers [9.2%] and Pregnant Woman [4.9%] as the two highest number of vulnerable groups within the population. There is 3.6% of the to-tal number of households are female headed and 2.2% by elderly persons.
Although Bangladesh has kept its borders open and offering shelter to them, most of the Rohingyas are now staying in the camps in an inhuman condition. The local administration, NGOs, volunteers and the United Nations are working to provide food and shelter. But it is too insufficient for the large number of displaced persons, according to local sources.
Over 1.2 million, registered and unregistered Rohingyas, have so far been taken shelter in Bangladesh fleeing discrimination, violence and persecution, as well as isolation and fear, in the northern Rakhine State of Myanmar.