Geneva/New York, Oct 16 (IANS/AKI) UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi and two other top UN officials on Monday urged the international community to boost relief for over 500,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar since August.
“We call on the international community to intensify efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the plight of the Rohingya,” Grandi, the UN’s Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and emergency aid, Mark Lowcock, and William Lacy Swing, head of its migration agency, said in a statement.
The statement urged countries to “end the desperate exodus, to support host communities and ensure the conditions that will allow for refugees’ eventual voluntary return in safety and dignity.
“The origins and, thus, the solutions to this crisis lie in Myanmar,” said Grandi, Lowcock and Lacy Swing – who heads the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The government of Bangladesh, local charities, volunteers, the UN and NGOs are “working in overdrive” to assist Rohingya living in over-crowded refugee camps and makeshift settlements after fleeing from Myanmar’s Rakine State, the UN chiefs said.
“The efforts must be scaled up and expanded to receive and protect refugees and ensure they are provided with basic shelter and acceptable living conditions. Every day more vulnerable people arrive,” they said.
The Rohingya refugees depend entirely on humanitarian aid for food, water, health and other essential needs, Grandi, Lowcock and Lacy Swing noted.
“Basic services are under severe strain. In some sites, there is no access to potable water, and sanitation facilities are absent, raising health risks for both the refugees and the communities hosting them,” added the UN chiefs.
The top UN officials praised Bangladesh for keeping its borders open and its “generous” hospitality.
They drew attention to a pledging conference taking place on October 23, organised by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the IOM and UNHCR and co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait.
“It provides governments from around the world an opportunity to show their solidarity and share the burden and responsibility,” said Grandi, Lowcock and Lacy Swing.
The latest influx of Rohingya to Bangladesh began on August 25 when Rohingya insurgents attacked Myanmar police security posts, prompting security forces to launch a counter-offensive that the UN has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
The Rohingya, a stateless ethnic minority, have long faced persecution in Rakhine in northern Myanmar.
Bloody riots in 2012 forced over 100,000 Rohingya to flee to refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh, where many still live.
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