The Rohingya crisis continues to grow as more and more people fly from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Sida (Swedish International Development Agency) has in November therefore decided to distribute a new humanitarian support of 100 million kronor to organizations that assist refugees both in Bangladesh and Myanmar where the needs are enormous.
“When so many people live closely in poorly equipped refugee camps, there are great risks that diseases such as cholera spread rapidly. It is therefore important to immediately scale up efforts for health, water and sanitation, “says Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, head of Sida’s humanitarian aid.
The rapidly escalating crisis is one of the fastest growing we have seen in modern times with around 600,000 people escaping from Myanmar to Bangladesh in just 12 weeks, since August 25. Many Rohingya have been forced to leave their homes since the military in Burma initiated what the UN calls “a schoolbook example on ethnic cleansing”. The refugees arrive to Bangladesh completely exhausted and many have also been exposed to various types of violence. The majority are women and children, writes Sida.
“The Rohingya crisis, however, is not a new crisis. Rohingya is a group of people who have been marginalized and oppressed in Myanmar for decades. Sida has supported humanitarian efforts for a long time both in Myanmar and Bangladesh, but what can solve the crisis in a sustainable way is in fact a political solution,” says Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen.
The Swedish government has now decided on a new SEK 100 million support for humanitarian needs in the world, and Sida has decided that the entire sum will go to the Rohingya crisis due to the rapidly worsening needs of an extremely large number of people. The support now needed is to provide roofs over their heads, access to food and clean water and the possibility of sanitation.
“It is important that Sida closely follows how the response is scaled up, so Sida’s humanitarian staff went to Bangladesh and Myanmar already last month to follow up together with embassy staff and humanitarian organizations,” says Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen.
The new support will be distributed among UN organizations such as Unicef, UNHCR and OCHA, as well as to ACF, Action Against Hunger. The support is mostly for operations in Bangladesh, but also to Myanmar and the Rakhine state where many Rohingyas remain, and there is a great need for support.
Unicef focuses its support on children’s needs and currently also on water, sanitation and nutrition since many children have not had enough to eat and are undernourished. UNHCR is helping refugees who crossed the border with Bangladesh and need help with registration, which enables them to provide different types of support, as well as shelter and protection.
According to the UN, $ 434 million is needed, just over SEK 3.5 billion, to help refugees in six months. At the donor conference held on October 23, donors promised to assist with $ 350 million, equivalent to SEK 2.9 billion.
Already earlier this year, Sida expanded its humanitarian support to the refugee crisis in the area through organizations such as the Swedish Red Cross, UNICEF, and the International Migration Organization (IOM). The total Swedish humanitarian support for the refugee crisis this year, including this decision, amounts to approximately SEK 180 million.