Joint statement by Emergency Relief Coordinator and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake

 

Joint statement by Emergency Relief Coordinator and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake

[Draft Caption] 
An unprecedented 200,000 child refugees have fled Myanmar and are now in urgent need of help, Unicef has warned, as the Rohingya crisis reaches new proportions.

Minors make up at least 60 per cent of the 330,000 Rohingya who have crossed the border to Bangladesh over the past few weeks. Highly traumatized, they are arriving malnourished and injured after walking for days.

By 5 September 2017, more than 146,000 Rohingya refugees fled across the border from Rakhine State, Myanmar, into Cox's Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh since 25 August. As many as 80 per cent of the new arrivals are women and children. More than 70 000 children need urgent humanitarian assistance. More than 100,000 of the newly arrived refugees are currently residing in makeshift settlements and official refugee camps that are extremely overcrowded while 10,000 newly arrived refugees are in host communities. In addition, 33,000 arrivals are in new spontaneous sites, which are quickly expanding.  While some refugees are making their own shelters, the majority of people are staying in the open, suffering from exhaustion, sickness and hunger. Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable districts, not only for its poor performance in child related indicators but also for its vulnerability to natural hazards.  Most people walked 50 or 60 kilometers for up to six days and are in dire need of food, water and protection. Many children are suffering from cold fever as they are drenched in rain and lack additional clothes. Children and adolescents, especially girls, are vulnerable to trafficking as different child trafficking groups are active in the region. Many more children in need of support and protection remain in the areas of northern Rakhine State that have been wracked by violence.

In Bangladesh, UNICEF is scaling up its response to provide refugee children with protection, nutrition, health, water and sanitation support. With the recent

© UNICEF/Brown

Rohingya children and families flee to Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh. More than half a million new refugees have crossed into Cox’s Bazar since 25 August.

DHAKA, Bangladesh/HONG Kong, 4 October 2017 –  We leave Bangladesh moved by the stories of suffering that we heard from refugees fleeing the violence in Myanmar – and all the more determined that the United Nations do all it can to assist the Government of Bangladesh in coping with this crisis.

The human tragedy unfolding in southern Bangladesh is staggering in its scale, complexity and rapidity. In just the past few weeks, well over half a million Rohingya people have crossed the border, making this the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.

People arrive fearful, exhausted and hungry, and in desperate need of immediate help including shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, and healthcare. They bring with them terrible accounts of what they have seen and suffered — stories of children being killed, women brutalized, and villages burned to the ground.

The Government and people of Bangladesh have demonstrated an extraordinary spirit of generosity by opening the country’s borders and leading the efforts to provide relief to the refugees. They have provided the world an inspiring example of humanity.

We were impressed in the camps and settlements we visited by the progress being made to assist the refugees. We saw the difference that the Government, the Bangladesh Armed Forces, UN agencies and our national and international NGO partners are making. But the needs are growing at a faster pace than our ability to meet them.

The refugees are living in flimsy bamboo and plastic shacks in the sprawling and densely-crowded sites that have sprung up to accommodate them. In these conditions, there is an ever-growing risk for an outbreak of disease. There are also numerous challenges for the response including limited road access to the dispersed refugee populations, a population that is still moving and a lack of land for shelter and infrastructure. Beyond these impediments, we face an urgent need for the resources that will allow us to continue to ramp up and sustain our efforts.

Funding is urgently needed so that all refugees have access to food, shelter, water, sanitation facilities, health care and protective services. Conditions in the temporary settlements are dire. Without a significant increase in assistance, the refugees, who have suffered so much already, could face another catastrophe on top of the tragedies that caused them to flee their homes.

Today an update to the UN response plan was released, seeking HK$3,385.2 million which is urgently needed to scale up the relief operation in support of the refugees and the host communities where they are seeking refuge. In support of this, an additional HK$93.6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been allocated to assist in the establishment of new sites for the newly arrived refugees.

We welcomed, in our meetings with Government officials, their assurances of ever closer cooperation.

Unfortunately, this appalling situation is not over. People are still crossing from Myanmar into Bangladesh, fleeing for their lives and requiring immediate support. We call again on the Myanmar authorities to allow the full resumption of humanitarian action across all of Rakhine state, and will continue to advocate for conditions to be created that allow for people to safely, securely and voluntarily go home.