The world must not forget the Rohingya refugees in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis — Radio Free Asia

Despite the war in Ukraine, the world must not forget the plight of the Rohingya and other refugees and the burden on their host countries, the head of the UN refugee agency pleaded on Wednesday at the end of five-day trip to Bangladesh.

The conflict stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its humanitarian fallout is straining resources everywhere, including to support sprawling refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh along the border with Myanmar. , said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“I am here to remind the international community that it is not just Ukraine. Bangladesh has borne the responsibility for five years and this support cannot diminish,” he told a press conference in Dhaka.

“I will not accept it. I will exert maximum pressure on all donor partners.

“It is very important for the world to know that this must not be forgotten…. There is a risk of marginalization of certain crises because so many resources are absorbed, in particular by the Ukrainian emergency,” he added.

Camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district are home to around 1 million Rohingya refugees, including 740,000 who fled atrocities during a military offensive in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017.

But only 13% of the US$881 million needed for aid agencies this year to support Rohingya refugees in the South Asian nation was funded in May.

“I’m a bit worried…first there’s a bit more need because there’s also Bhashan Char, and now in Ukraine, Afghanistan and a lot of other competing crises, we’re fighting a bit, but I’m here for that too,” Grandi said.

Bhashan Char is a remote island in the Bay of Bengal where the government of Bangladesh has moved some 26,000 Rohingya refugees since December 2020, ostensibly to ease the burden of overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.

While in Bangladesh, Grandi visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char.

Grandi said the war in Ukraine had added an additional financial burden to the United Nations, which also affected Rohingya camps.

“The emergency in Ukraine is also a problem here. We buy liquid gas for… [these] fields. This price has increased a lot and it is a direct impact of the crisis,” he said.

When asked, Grandi acknowledged that funding Rohingya refugees would be more difficult than before.

“I think the government knows it, we know it and the donors know it.”

The solution to the Rohingya crisis lies in Myanmar, says UNHCR chief.

“The Rohingya refugees I met reiterated their desire to return home when conditions allow. The world must work to address the root causes of their flight and translate those dreams into reality,” Grandi said.

Filippo Grandi (centre), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, walks inside Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, May 22, 2022. Credit: UNHCR.

Grandi spoke with the Rohingyas about their situation during his visit to the refugee camps earlier this week, said Kin Maung, the founder of the Rohingya Youth Association in Cox’s Bazar.

“We hope that after the UNHCR boss’s visit, the repatriation process will get more attention,” he told BenarNews.

“We want to return to our homeland with dignity.”

Christi C. Elwood