Funding for Rohingya refugees: Donor fatigue concerns Dhaka

Mir Mostafizur Rahaman | Published: August 26, 2019 10:09:40 | Updated: August 26, 2019 16:35:39

Exhausted Rohingya refugees rest after arriving by a wooden boat from Myanmar to the shore of Shah Porir Dwip, in Teknaf, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, October 1, 2017. Reuters/Files

The funding for humanitarian response to the Rohingya living at multiple camps in Cox's Bazar is declining, giving Bangladesh serious cause for concern.

As of August 24, only $330 million out of $920 million required to last the remaining months of 2019 was available, said Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ICSG).

The amount is only 36 per cent of the total annual requirements, said officials of ICSG, a platform of global volunteer agencies working at Rohingya camps.

The ration was more than 50 per cent in the corresponding period last year.

In 2017, 73 per cent of the required fund was available from donors. It was 71 per cent in 2018.

This year, it may not exceed the 70-per cent mark, officials said.

"The situation is alarming as foreign funds for the Rohingya have been declining. Bangladesh has already spent large amounts for them," said foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.

"It is not possible for us to continue with such support ceaselessly," he told the FE.

"We're desperately looking for quick repatriation of the Rohingya. It will be good for them as thousands of children are here without proper education."

"We urge the Myanmar authorities to take immediate steps, including ensuring an environment conducive to the return of their people," Mr Momen continued.

According to ICSG, the United States has been the biggest donor this year with $116.6 million followed by Australia, the European Commission and Japan.

They provided $32.3 million, $31.1 million and $30.9 million respectively.

An analysis of the sector-wise funding shows $8.6 million was funded for child protection against the required $23.5 million.

Food security sector got $86.9 million against the required $254.1 million.

Likewise, health care received $13.1 million against the required $88.7 million.

For protection, $9.7 million was funded against $38.9 million required. For nutrition, $13.8 million was allocated against $48.1 million.

According to the statement, only $15.6 million went to the shelter sector against the required 128.8 million.

"It's a global phenomenon that such funds gradually decrease with the emergence of new priorities to the donors," observed international relations expert Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University.

The government and the humanitarian organisations should chalk up plans to address this, he told the FE.

However, in the wake of a slide in funding, international agencies are working on a medium-term strategy to continue with the humanitarian response.

"As new conflicts and crises emerge, and donor fatigue looms large, the international community must move from a short-term, aid-oriented response... to support Bangladesh," said Centre for Global Development.

This international research organisation has been working for sustainable humanitarian response to the oppressed Rohingya community.

These commitments would recognise the global public good Bangladesh is providing and would enable the country to continue its impressive development trajectory.

The components of the medium-term strategies are: Stimulate private-sector investment, promote employment-oriented skills development and acceleration of forest and landscape restoration.


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