The funding for Rohingya refugees has gone down significantly in 2022 compared to the two previous years, which has concerned the humanitarian groups and the Bangladesh government.
Over one million Rohingya are currently residing in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, where there are difficulties with overpopulation, instability, and violence. Even though it costs $1.21 billion per year to house the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, the Rohingya crisis has never received adequate funds. As a matter of fact, aid has been declining.
A gradual decrease in funding
The government and UN agencies working in the humanitarian sector requested $881 million from international donors for 2022. About $290 million (32.9%) has been disbursed to Bangladesh so far. However, the latest data from the UN agencies shows that the donors disbursed a total of $431 million to the Joint Response Plan (JRP) budget last year.
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The amount was only 49% of what was needed to give humanitarian aid to one million Rohingya refugees. In 2017, they fled to Bangladesh to avoid being massacred by Myanmar’s security forces.
There was a shortfall of $943 million in 2021, but donor countries provided $680.9 million, or 72% of the total.
In 2020, they got $630 million instead of the $1,003 million they needed. Sixty percent of requests were granted funding.
Did Ukraine war aid affect the funding for Rohingyas?
However, while the world is paying close attention to the situation in Ukraine, less attention and aid are being given to other humanitarian situations across the world.
According to experts, the decrease in funding can be attributed to the redistribution of resources to other refugee camps, most notably to help Ukrainian refugees in Europe. Since August 2017, the Rohingya have been living with the support of the Bangladeshi government and foreign organizations in Bangladesh.
However, Bangladesh has been struggling to provide for the Rohingya as aid has been reduced to a trickle. It has been trying to get international support for repatriation, but so yet, not much has happened.
As Myanmar is not being responsive towards the issue and now the diverted funding issue is throwing additional challenges to a developing country like Bangladesh. “Unfortunately, it seems that international agencies are less concerned about the Rohingya. With the Russia-Ukraine War, much international support and concern have been directed toward Ukraine. The focus is not on the Rohingya anymore. However, the Rohingya deserve to be repatriated with all civic facilities. Keeping them in Bangladesh for long is not a solution,” stated Hassan Mahmud, information & broadcasting minister of Bangladesh.
Humanitarian experts are concerned that the increased focus on Ukraine is diverting financial and human resources away from other countries. Notably, the countries that are already facing historic financing shortages.
Affect of Post-Covid economy and global recession on Rohingya funding
The decline in funding also is linked to the donor nations’ adoption of belt-tightening measures in response to the current economic recession.
The epidemic of COVID-19 exacerbated already pressing humanitarian concerns and escalated financial demands. However, the United Nations only obtained around half of the money it asked for in its humanitarian appeal for 2021.
The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report estimates that in 2022 there will be more than 300 million people in need of food, clean water, shelter, and medical attention. All these will be making the severity of the current financing crisis all the more apparent. That’s 90 million more than there were when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In addition to driving up food and energy prices, the conflict in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia have caused a drop in global food output. These spikes are already impacting emergency relief distribution and food shortages in several conflict-affected settings, as well as in prominent refugee-hosting nations such as Bangladesh.
The UNHCR claims that the reduced financing will make life even more difficult for Rohingya refugees. Officials at the agency claimed they could no longer provide for the unreported protection needs of women, children, and individuals with disabilities. In their view, if funding is curtailed, refugees would be unable to get the proper nutrition and medical care they need.
The JRP 2023 plan to support Rohingyas
The UNHCR and the government of Bangladesh are reportedly planning to launch the Joint Response Plan (JRP) in 2023. They would request $876 million from donor partners this year. The JRP 2023 will make a plea for the international community to continue assisting the Rohingya refugees and the hospitable communities in Bangladesh.
The goal of the plan is to help about 1.47 million people, including 978,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and about 495,000 Bangladeshis who live in the area. The JRP will bring together the activities of the partners, more than half of which are Bangladeshi organizations. It will be led by the Bangladeshi government.
UNHCR‘s representative in Bangladesh, Johannes van der Klaauw, said to UNB, “We shall appeal for approximately $876 million in all relevant sectors, of which some $67 million would be required for our operations on Bhasan Char.”
The goal of the JRP 2023 is to maintain and enhance the humanitarian aid and services that protect and support the Rohingyas’ lives. It will be done by ensuring that they have access to food, shelter, health care, water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
“We, therefore, need to redouble our efforts to mobilize resources and notably development funding, to be used flexibly, as humanitarian aid budgets are no longer available,” said Klaauw.
The plan intends to increase the Rohingya and host communities’ capacities in protecting themselves, and respond quickly and effectively to disasters caused by climate change and frequent monsoon rains, cyclones, and landslides.
Additionally, the presence of the Rohingya refugees has affected the social and economic situations as well as the environment. As a result, the plan also includes funding for humanitarian projects in the neighboring host communities.
In 2022, the United States provided the largest share of funds for the JRP, with 50.1% of the funds. Under the JRP, the EU gave 11.2% of the money to the fund, and the UK gave 7.1% of the funding.