International community not sending sufficient funds for Rohingyas

The international community despite assurances has not sent sufficient aid for the rehabilitation and emergency needs of the Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, BRAC Executive Director Muhammad Musa says.

A lack of support from the international community had caused shortages of funds for various projects and was causing delays, Musa said in his speech to an event on Sunday, commemorating the first anniversary of the Rohingya crisis, at the BRAC Centre.

“A budget of $435 million had been estimated since September 2017. At the start we were able to raise $335 million. These funds have been disbursed to various agencies for their work. This means we are starting with a $100 million shortage.”

A budget of $950 million was estimated to cover costs from March 2018 to December of this year, but so far only half of this amount has been raised, he said.

“This means we are operating without half our budget. This shortage is persisting. And now we have to look to the 2019 budget.”
Though $5.64 million is needed for BRAC’s integrated assistance efforts from March to December, only $24.2 million has been raised, he said.

“Let me speak of our situation. We began work with a plan for 50 health centres. We later reduced this to 30. We are currently working to manage the costs for 11 clinics. We have even dipped into our own funds. We cannot halt this work.”

Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas fled across the border after the Myanmar military began a crackdown in Rakhine State last August. Nearly 400,000 Rohingyas had been living in Bangladesh before last August’s surge, having come to Bangladesh at some point in the past few decades.

Myanmar made a repatriation agreement with Bangladesh last December in the face of intense international pressure, but the initiative has yet to begin.

Muhammad Musa described the repatriation process as complex.
“This is a political matter,” he said. “An environment must first be created in order for them to return. This environment must be safe and the return has to be respectful, voluntary and on a permanent basis. Myanmar must ensure this.”

The conditions for the Rohingyas’ return have to be citizenship, compensation, safety and justice, he said, citing BRAC research.

He added that the organisation was working with the Bangladesh government on the Rohingya relocation effort to Bhasanchar.

“We are still doubtful about the Bhasanchar situation. It is essential that arrangements for them are made before they are transferred.”

Though this relocation effort was to start in July, it was delayed due to concerns over poor weather. Officials from the government, international agencies and BRAC will now be sent to make preparations for the transfer.