Rohingya refugees face hunger and sickness after failure of UN’s $1bn appeal

‘The world must wake up’: Virtual conference set up to raise funds for the million refugees who fled Myanmar

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees gather at a market inside a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo
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Thousands of Rohingya refugees have been left without food and clean water after the failure of a $1 billion United Nations appeal.
More than one million people fled persecution in Myanmar since a military crackdown that started in August 2017 but they face a health emergency after the appeal raised less than half of the amount needed for this year.

The UN, European Union, US and UK will next week host a conference aimed at raising funds for refugees, who include some 860,000 in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“The world must wake up to the severity of their plight and come together now to save lives,” said Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Minister.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled the brutal military offensive in Rakhine state in Myanmar in an operation described by the UN as ethnic cleansing.

Witnesses told of girls being abducted, killings, mass rape and forced starvation aimed at driving Rohingya from their homes. Myanmar’s commander-in-chief and other military leaders face sanctions in response to massacres of the minority Muslim Rohingya population.

The UN said that many displaced Rohingya were living life on the margins across Asia with no access to basic healthcare, clean water, food, work or education.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened living conditions and increased the risk of infection diseases spreading in the camps at Cox’s Bazar, a city in southeast Bangladesh, and centres holding another 150,000 Rohingya refugees in other countries across the region. Some 600,000 people also live in camps in Rakhine state.

A virtual conference will be held next Thursday to try to fix the “significant funding gap”, said the organisers.

“Any sustainable solution to this crisis must include the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and other displaced people to their homes or to a place of their choosing,” the EU, UN and the two countries said in a joint statement.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Solidarity with the Rohingya people means more than just meeting their basic needs. Refugees, like everyone else, have a right to a life of dignity and the chance to build a safe and stable future.”