Three U.N. agencies have warned that $794 million is needed to cover a shortfall in funding that will allow critical lifesaving work to proceed for Rohingya refugees before the monsoon season arrives.
In a joint press release on Tuesday, the heads of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Program (WFP) in Cox's Bazar underscored the urgent need for more funding. The Joint Response Appeal from all key agencies working on the Rohingya response in Cox's Bazar has secured just 16 percent of a total $950 million needed for the response until the end of the year, leaving a $794 million shortfall.
The statement came as the humanitarian agencies announced the completion of the first new area of land being prepared to relocate families most at risk of landslides when the monsoon hits. The work is part of a major joint initiative between IOM, UNHCR and WFP.
"With the monsoon season almost upon us, we will continue working urgently to prepare more land, coordinate services, secure vital access ways and ensure we are ready to respond to emergency situations when they arise," said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM's Emergency Coordinator in Cox's Bazar.
Kevin J. Allen, head of the UNHCR's operations in Cox's Bazar, said: "We're very happy to be able to move to the next stage in this ambitious project, which has been a great example of inter-agency collaboration in support of the government of Bangladesh."
"It will be a race against time to get everything ready so that the most vulnerable families at high risk of landslides and flooding can be moved to safety before the worst of the monsoon season gets underway," he added.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 Rohingya, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the Amnesty International, bringing the total number of Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar district to around 900,000. The vast majority of the refugees are living under tarpaulins and in bamboo shelters on steep sandy slopes in the desperately overcrowded camp.