61 NGOs warn of worsening crisis in Myanmar, call for refugees’ engagement on safe, voluntary returns

ByCARE Australia August 21, 2019 0 comments

COX’S BAZAAR, BANGLADESH: Nearly 1 million Rohingya are still waiting for justice and a say about their future, two years after being forced from their homes by mass atrocities in Myanmar, and are struggling for safety and dignity in Bangladesh as refugees.

In a joint statement released today, 61 local, national and international NGOs working in the two countries called for human rights for all to be recognised in Rakhine State and for Rohingya refugees to have a role in decision-making about their own lives, including conditions for their return to Myanmar.

The NGOs voiced strong concerns about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, as the conflict escalates and humanitarian access remains limited.

They urged the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process be safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible expedited repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees circulated this week.

For the past two years, NGOs have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to effectively provide life-sustaining support to people living in the world’s largest refugee camp.

Their collective efforts have stabilised camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks.

But more needs to be done. The agencies called on the international community to increase funding for the humanitarian response in Bangladesh and Myanmar to improve the lives of refugees and host communities, as well as internally displaced persons.

“CARE has been supporting the refugees to live a safe and dignified life ever since they arrived in Bangladesh two years ago,”said, Zia Choudhury, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh.

“We work with local communities, local organisations and the Government of Bangladesh to provide clean water, safe latrines, strong shelters and medical services.

“CARE have focused on women and girls, who face specific challenges in the camps; we provide them with safe, women-only spaces where they can get specialist advice, counselling, training, or even just sit with friends and have a cup of tea and play some board games.

“Until the refugees can safely return home, we need to work hard to maintain the current services, and also protect them from the cyclones and flooding which are regular events in Bangladesh.”

Ram Das, Assistant Country Director of CARE Bangladesh said CARE was one of the first responders when a large number of refugees first arrived in Cox’s Bazaar, and remained committed to improving camp conditions.

“We equally look forward to a smooth repatriation process of the refugees back to their homeland, which is both safe and voluntary, which is done through an inclusive decision making process by engaging with all sections of the refugee community.”

Read the joint statement here.

Fast facts

  • In Myanmar, some 128,000 displaced Rohingya, and other Muslim communities, have been confined to camps in Rakhine State since 2012, unable to return home.
  • In Bangladesh, refugee children need access to more robust educational services. More than 25,000 children are out of school. Further, 97 per cent of adolescents aged 15 to 18 years do not attend any type of educational facility.
  • In Bangladesh, the percentage of host community households living on less than USD60 a month spiked from 10 to 22 percent after the influx in August 2017.

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