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Rohingya crisis: UN chief’s envoy emphasizes political solution

  • Published at 02:44 pm February 27th, 2019
Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore addresses a press conference at a Dhaka hotel on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Difficult to get funding in any humanitarian crisis, says the Unicef chief

The humanitarian envoy of the United Nations secretary-general has laid emphasis on a political solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis, which has been a serious problem for Bangladesh.

The chief of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) expressed concern about inadequate funding to handle the crisis which began in August 2017 following brutal persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

“Humanitarian is not the only solution. Humanitarian aid, action is just to mitigate the suffering of the people and to try and meet the basic needs for them,” envoy Ahmed Al Meraikhi told a press conference at a Dhaka hotel on Wednesday.

“I think it is important to have a political solution. We have to work together to get the solution,” he said.

The Rohingyas want to go back home but they are concerned about their security, he added, urging donors to donate more for the refugees.

Adding to this, Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore at the same event said: “Shortage of funds is always a trouble. It is difficult to find enough humanitarian funding.”

She said they generally receive 50-70% funding against any appeal during an emergency or humanitarian crisis. “There are 300 emergencies a year,” she said, adding that because of this, they look for private and public donors to meet the rest of the funding needs.

Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled persecution at Rakhine, now in multiple refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Meraikhi and Fore held the press conference after visiting the refugee camps on Monday and Tuesday.

Sharing her experience in Cox’s Bazar, the Unicef chief said there was a greater need for the people to feel that they were out of the crisis.

“It is very important for the United Nations to have a stance of safe and dignified return [of the Rohingyas] and it must be voluntary.

“We have not created that situation, but we are working privately and publicly in all the agencies in the United Nations to try to make this thing happen,” she added.

Unicef Bangladesh has appealed for $152 million to provide 685,000 Rohingya refugees and host community residents with critical support in 2019. As of February, the UN agency said, it has received 29% funding against its appeal.

Rohingya children a priority

According to a joint press release issued by Unicef chief Fore, and UN secretary-general’s envoy, Meraikhi, half a million Rohingya children are stateless refugees in Cox’s Bazar, increasingly anxious about their futures, and vulnerable to frustration and despair.

The massive humanitarian effort led by the Bangladesh government with international support has saved countless children’s lives, it said, adding that there is no viable solution in sight for these Rohingya children, who live in the world’s largest and most congested refugee settlement.

In Myanmar, the majority have no legal identity or citizenship. In Bangladesh, children are not being registered at birth, they lack a legal identity, and they lack a refugee status, said the press release.

It added that until conditions in Myanmar lead to those eligible returning home, Rohingya children remain a status-less minority. This excludes these children from a formal education curriculum and they are desperately in need of marketable skills.

“The obligation we have as a global society is immense: to give children and young people the world has defined as ‘stateless,’ the education and skills they need to build decent lives for themselves,” said the Unicef executive director.

Meraikhi said: “We must agree now, and collectively, to invest in this generation of Rohingya children, so that they can better navigate their lives today, and be a constructive part of rebuilding Myanmar’s social fabric when they are able to return.”

He also noted: “Today, without a legal identity, they are at the mercy of traffickers and drug dealers.”

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