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Aurora Prize winner to donate $1mln award money to Rohingya refugees

  • Published at 02:26 pm September 4th, 2018
Rohingya refugees, who crossed the border from Myanmar, walk after they received permission from the Bangladeshi army to continue on to the refugee camps, in Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 19, 2017 Reuters

The donation will benefit around 375,000 Rohingya refugees

Myanmar rights activist Kyaw Hla Aung, the winner of the Aurora Prize 2018, will donate the award money of $1 million to Rohingya refugee humanitarian relief work.

This initiative will benefit an estimated 375,000 Rohingyas, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) said in a statement

AHI, founded on behalf of the Armenian Genocide survivors, seeks to help those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid.

Aung, a lawyer and activist, has been jailed repeatedly for his peaceful work. He was recognized by AHI for his dedication to fighting for equality, education, and human rights for the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The money will be distributed among Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and MERCY Malaysia — who are providing medical aid and assistance to Rohingya refugees across South East Asia.

MSF, UK, will receive $400,000, while MERCY Malaysia and the ICMC will get $300,000 each. 

MSF is directing the funds to further advance the emergency response in the Balukhali makeshift settlements in Bangladesh, the AHI said.

The organization said an estimated 250,000 Rohingya refugees will benefit from the donation. 

The MSF team of more than 2,000 staff is running 10 health posts, four primary health centres – open around the clock – and five in-patient health facilities —providing 24-hour secondary healthcare.

MSF executive director Vickie Hawkins welcomed the donation, saying it comes at a crucial time.

More than 700,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, since late August last year — after the security forces launched a brutal crackdown targeting the predominantly Muslim community. The refugees are staying at makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The ICMC is allocating its share of the Aurora funds to two initiatives directed at empowering Rohingya refugees in Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

It also aims to improve damaged infrastructure at Bangladesh’s Kutupalong Rohingya camp. The ICMC estimates that over 20,000 people will benefit from these projects.

ICMC Secretary General Monsignor Robert J Vitillo said they would use the Aurora award to advance their work with Rohingya and other refugees in Malaysia and elsewhere.

MERCY Malaysia will use its share of the funds to provide primary and maternal healthcare, and operational support, to Rohingyas—by collaborating with the Rakhine State Health Department in the Sittwe IDP camps and Kyauktan village.

MERCY Malaysia estimates that over 100,000 Rohingya people will benefit from this initiative.

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