The distinguished delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), accompanied by envoys from notable bodies such as the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), and Kuwait’s Zakat House, issued a heartfelt call to the global community. Their plea echoed for consistent and enduring assistance aimed at both Rohingyas and the resilient host communities in Bangladesh.
This mission, orchestrated with precision and co-led by the UNHCR, the esteemed UN Refugee Agency, finds its genesis within the comprehensive framework of the OIC-UNHCR partnership Plan of Action, a pact that came to fruition in the year 2022. Through this collaborative synergy, the mission embarked upon illuminated the grim reality of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions and the increasingly intricate needs faced by the Rohingya refugees and their magnanimous hosts residing within the Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh
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As the situation approaches the six-year milestone since the unprecedented influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar’s Rakhine State in the year 2017, this visit served as a poignant reminder of the prolonged challenges and unflagging resilience exhibited by the Rohingya population and their host communities.
Delegation’s in-depth exploration offers fresh insight into refugee plight
Throughout their visit, the delegation meticulously toured various initiatives bolstered by UNHCR and its collaborative partners, affording them an unfiltered perspective of the pronounced exigencies faced by the refugees and their gracious hosts. This on-site observation illuminated the realm of possibilities, where concerted efforts can be harnessed to cultivate self-sufficiency, enabling both communities to gradually diminish their dependence on aid. The avenue of skills development and capacity-building programs, ingeniously integrated into community centers, emerged as a beacon of hope, exemplifying the potential to uplift livelihoods.
The timing of the visit coincided with a period of relentless monsoon rains, an unwelcome guest that exacerbated the plight of these already fragile displaced communities. The inclement weather bore down upon shelters, facilities, and vital infrastructure, casting a shadow of adversity upon these vulnerable groups. Nonetheless, the delegation bore witness to the comprehensive disaster risk management and preparedness endeavors undertaken by UNHCR, aimed at curbing the deleterious impact of climate-related challenges and steering the displaced communities away from further deterioration.
Ambassador Tarig Ali Bakheet, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has affirmed the organization’s resolute commitment to establishing global partnerships that can play a pivotal role in financing vital humanitarian initiatives within the camps. Despite encountering economic complexities and a waning level of international backing, Ambassador Bakheet has also expressed his deep appreciation for the laudable endeavors undertaken by the government of Bangladesh in extending crucial assistance to the Rohingya community.
Undeniably, the OIC remains unwavering in its dedication to alleviating the plight of those in need, a profound objective that resonates as the collective voice of the Muslim world. A substantial entity, the OIC holds the distinction of being the second largest international organization following the United Nations, with its membership encompassing 57 sovereign states spread across four continents.
In the course of his recent sojourn to Bangladesh, Ambassador Bakheet underscored the paramount significance of establishing an environment that is both secure and voluntary, affording Rohingya refugees the opportunity to return to their homeland in Myanmar. This vision not only harbors the potential for a lasting resolution to the ongoing crisis but also upholds the principles of justice by ensuring their entitlement to full rights, including the fundamental right to nationality.
Unveiling avenues of hope
Of particular significance is the OIC’s unwavering dedication to harnessing diplomatic avenues within the framework of the International Court of Justice, underscoring their earnest commitment to ameliorating the prevailing situation. The Assistant Secretary-General commended the government and populace of Bangladesh, commending their benevolence in offering sanctuary to one of the world’s most vulnerable refugee communities.
A noteworthy aspect of Ambassador Bakheet’s commendation is the recognition of initiatives put forth to facilitate access for Rohingya children to the curriculum of Myanmar, presented in the Myanmar language, within the learning centers situated within the camps. These laudable efforts are geared toward preparing the younger generation for an eventual voluntary return to and reintegration within their ancestral society in Myanmar, as articulated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“I earnestly appeal to all nations, particularly the esteemed Member States of the OIC, to persist in showcasing their unity through substantial support, extending a hand of generosity to the Government of Bangladesh and the collaborative network of humanitarian allies. This resolute backing is crucial in addressing the urgent and compelling requirements of both the Rohingya populace and their gracious hosts,” articulated the Assistant Secretary General.
Ambassador Bakheet emphasized that the pathway of diplomacy must harmoniously align with the steadfast humanitarian endeavors, encompassing the comprehensive spectrum of issues that underlie the Rohingya predicament. A sustainable and enduring resolution to this complex crisis, as endorsed by pertinent OIC resolutions, can only be achieved through this synchronicity, he underscored.
Navigating Rohingya response’s financial challenges
At the core of the response strategy, the focal point must consistently be the formulation and implementation of solutions for the Rohingya crisis. In this realm, Johannes van der Klaauw, the UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for its unwavering commitment and tangible solidarity extended to the Rohingya refugees situated in Bangladesh.
Evidently, the Rohingya response is grappling with a profound shortage of funds, a challenge evidenced by recent reductions in food aid. This underscores the compelling urgency to collectively invest in endeavors that foster self-sufficiency among the Rohingya community. The aspiration is to facilitate a transition from dependence on humanitarian assistance to self-reliance, a goal that is in alignment with the aspirations of the Rohingya people themselves.
Moreover, Khaled Khalifa, UNHCR Senior Advisor, and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, eloquently highlighted the indispensability of sharing the mantle of collective responsibility in supporting the most vulnerable. He extended his profound gratitude to the partners for their unswerving faith and dedication in fortifying the humanitarian response.
Anticipating a catalytic impact, Khaled Khalifa expressed hope that this recent visit would galvanize augmented political and humanitarian backing for Bangladesh, a nation that magnanimously shelters almost a million Rohingya refugees within the precincts of the world’s largest refugee encampment. This aspiration reflects the broader goal of harmonizing collective efforts toward alleviating the plight of the Rohingya community and paving the way for their dignified future.
In the earlier part of this year, the philanthropic entities operating in Bangladesh found it imperative to seek a substantial sum of $876 million. This financial injection was intended to offer vital sustenance to the Rohingya refugees, both those dwelling in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, as well as the gracious Bangladeshi host communities that have extended their benevolent embrace. However, as the calendar progressed to August 6th, it became evident that the 2023 Joint Response Plan had been bestowed with a mere 28 percent of the required funds, an inadequate situation that compelled these agencies to focus their efforts solely on addressing the most pressing and exigent needs.
Of profound import is Ambassador Tarig’s reiterated emphasis on elevating the Rohingya predicament to a position of paramount importance within the OIC’s multifaceted humanitarian and diplomatic endeavors. This steadfast commitment aligns harmoniously with the resolutions espoused by both the Islamic Summit and the Council of Foreign Ministers.
From the vantage point of Bangladesh, the officials extolled the delegation comprising representatives from the General Secretariat, the High Commissioner, and esteemed donor agencies. This joint odyssey to the heart of the Rohingya camps was perceived as an impactful stride forward, demonstrative of the OIC’s unyielding dedication, as well as the unwavering pledge of the international collaborators, toward championing the Rohingya cause. The profound significance of this undertaking lay in its capacity to furnish the requisite humanitarian aid not only to the refugees but also to the host communities who have graciously shared their refuge. In this gesture of solidarity, the global community resoundingly affirms its commitment to uplifting and supporting the Rohingya population and their host communities in their pursuit of a dignified existence.