Urgent life-saving assistance needed for Bangladesh as refugee influx surges: UN agencies

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/5 19:39:06

UN agencies have appealed for millions of dollars in emergency relief aid as more than 123,000 Rohingya's from Myanmar's northern Rakhine state have entered neighboring Bangladesh in 11 days.

"IOM and partner agencies operating in the district, which borders Myanmar, have identified an immediate funding gap of 18 million US dollars over the next three months to allow lifesaving services to be scaled up to cope with the new arrivals," said UN migration agency spokesperson Leonard Doyle on Tuesday at a briefing.

Adding Bangladesh crisis appeal was a statement by the UN refugee agency, saying that the UNHCR is gravely concerned about the continuing conflict in Myanmar and by reports that civilians have died trying to seek safety.

"Those who have made it to Bangladesh are in poor condition," UNHCR spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan told the UN briefing.

"Most have walked for days from their villages hiding in jungles, crossing mountains and rivers with what they could salvage from their homes. They are hungry, weak and sick," said Khan.

The new arrivals are scattered in different locations in south-eastern Bangladesh.

"More than 30,000 Rohingya are estimated to have sought shelter in the existing refugee camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara. Many others are living in makeshift sites and local villages," she said.

An unknown number of refugees could still be stranded at the border.

On Sept. 4, UNHCR delivered some clothes, plastic sheets and relief supplies through an NGO partner.

The UN refugee agency said it appreciates the role Bangladesh has played so far and continues working with the Bangladesh authorities to allow safe passage to people fleeing violence.

"With hundreds of new refugees streaming in every day, Kutupalong and Nayapara camps are at breaking point," said Khan.

"The new arrivals are hosted by refugee families and in refugee schools, community centers, madrassas and covered structures. We are running out of available space."

Khan said there is an urgent need for additional emergency shelters and land as more refugees arrive, noting that coordination is crucial with the authorities to ensure that life-saving assistance gets to those who need it the most.

Bangladesh already hosts around 400,000 Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMNs), most of whom are living in the greater Chittagong area, which is extremely vulnerable to external shocks, including cyclones.

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