UN opens fundraising conference for Rohingya refugees


UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 (APP):The United Nations Monday opened a conference to raise funds for securing aid for nearly one million persecuted Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh.
Elisabeth Rasmusson, the deputy chief of the World Food Programme (WFP), told the pledging conference in Geneva that the funds would benefit the Rohingya refugees who have fled the ongoing violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.
“We are here today because, sadly, the needs are even greater than we can provide with our current resources,” she said, adding, “On behalf of the people we are trying to help, we must ask you for more.”
Also addressing the conference, the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, said, “We need more money to keep pace with intensifying needs. This is not an isolated crisis, it is the latest round in a decades-long cycle of persecution, violence and displacement.”
“Children, women and men fleeing Myanmar are streaming into Bangladesh traumatized and destitute,” he added. “We assess we have pledges of around $340 million.”
Lowcock also reiterated the UN call on Myanmar to allow “full humanitarian access across Rakhine” where aid agencies have been denied entry.
He said Myanmar must “guarantee the right to safe, voluntary and dignified return so that the Rohingya can live in peace with their human rights upheld in Rakhine.”
The pledging conference comes as the United Nations has appealed for $434 million to provide life-saving aid to 1.2 million people for six months.
According to the UN, the funds will benefit the 900,000 Rohingya refugees as well as roughly 300,000 local people from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area on the Myanmar border.
Addressing the conference in Geneva, Shameem Ahsan, the ambassador of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, called the exodus of Rohingya Muslims to his country as “untenable.”
The diplomat called on Myanmar to let the refugees return.