UNHCR Rohingya fund nearly $500m short

The UN Refugee Agency seeks solidarity in its upcoming donor conference from the US, UK, and the EU aimed at closing the funding gap

The UN Refugee Agency managed to raise less than half the $1bn in aid for Rohingyas sheltered at Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar this year, reports Al Jazeera.

The lack of funds has made it difficult for UNHCR to provide food, basic healthcare, and other support to the Rohingya need, the UN Refugee Agency said on Thursday as it announced plans for a large donor conference next week.

The online event is scheduled to take place on October 22, in an effort to close a “significant funding gap,” the UNHCR said.

“Solidarity with the Rohingya people means more than just meeting their basic needs,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement.

“Refugees, like everyone else, have a right to a life of dignity and the chance to build a safe and stable future,” Al Jazeera quoted him as saying.

In 2017, the brutal Myanmar military crackdown in Rakhine state forced some 750,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into Bangladesh in violence that is now the subject of genocide charges against Myanmar at the UN’s top court at The Hague.They joined an earlier wave of Rohingya who had fled earlier violence in Rakhine state and were living in camps close to the border.

With the latest displacement, there are now an estimated 860,000 Rohingya in camps in Cox’s Bazar, said to be the world’s largest refugee settlement, reports Al Jazeera.

As many as 150,000 Rohingya also live in other countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia, while an estimated 600,000 Rohingya continue to live inside Myanmar, including in camps set up by the government in Rakhine state.

Myanmar does not recognize the mostly Muslim Rohingya ethnicity as citizens, even though the minority group has lived in the country for generations.

The UNHCR said that the funds raised at next week’s conference are expected to support “critical services” in communities that host the Rohingya.

The UN agency said that it will press for more “sustainable solutions” to the crisis, including the “voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return” of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said that the EU is committed to step up support to pledge further humanitarian and development assistance.

“The international community must strengthen its shared efforts towards reaching a sustainable solution – one that cultivates conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees,” she said in a statement.

The UNHCR did not specify how much more funds it hoped to raise at the conference.

The US and the UK have also expressed their commitment to the fundraising effort, but did not reveal how much they might pledge.

“As the world’s most generous donor, we are a catalyst for the international humanitarian response and call on others to contribute to this cause – both long-standing partners as well as new and aspiring donors,” US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun said, reported Al Jazeera.


The UNHCR noted that the living conditions of the Rohingya refugees further worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the community at increased risk of infection since so many people were living in close proximity to each other.