Washington: The United Nations have appealed to the entire international community to keep the political differences aside and support the ongoing humanitarian efforts to help Rohingya Muslim refugees.
“We have made very clear our concern at the ongoing tragedy of the Rohingyas, people who have been forced to leave their homes. The reports we’re getting, the pictures all of us are seeing are heart-breaking to say the least,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson to the UN Secretary-General told reporters at his daily noon conference at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I think the entire international community should support the ongoing humanitarian efforts, regardless of politics. These are people in need. These are very vulnerable people who have crossed the border, who’ve, as we said, are hungry and are malnourished and deserve to be helped,” he said.
The spokesperson was responding to a question on role of regional players in helping Rohingya refugees. “Are you disappointed that major regional players, including in India, in particular, have actually sort of made their stand about this Rohingya crisis very clear and actually not come out and supported when their support could have been quite crucial?” he was asked.
United Nation’s humanitarian wing, he said, have done emergency planning for about 300,000 Rohingya refugees.
“That number has now definitely crossed that line. We are urgently appealing for more funds,” he said.
“Whether it’s UNHCR, WFP and other agencies, (we) are trying to get as much aid into the country as quickly as possible. Obviously, from what we’ve read out, we haven’t been able to reach all the people that we need to.The added challenge is that a lot of people are crossing the border, going to makeshift settlements, or otherwise living outside more organised structures, which could make it easier for us to reach them,” he said.
Dujarric said the government of Bangladesh has asked the UN to help establish a new camp to house the newly arrived refugees.
A flight chartered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) carrying emergency aid — such as shelter materials, sleeping mats and other supplies — for Rohingya refugees has landed in Bangladesh.
The cargo has been loaded onto trucks which will bring the supplies to the refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar.
A second flight, donated by the United Arab Emirates, has also landed in Bangladesh, carrying some 2,000 family tents.
The supplies in both flights will help 25,000 refugees, and further flights are planned so that 120,000 people can be reached in total.
For its part, WFP is concerned about the health of women and children who are arriving in Bangladesh hungry and malnourished. WFP has been providing food to some 70,000 people as they arrive in Cox’s Bazar and to nearly 60,000 people living in camps and makeshift settlements in the region, he said.
Across the border in Myanmar, UN continue to be concerned about reports of violence, fires and displacement of tens of thousands of people in Rathedaung township in Rakhine State.
“Most aid activities on the part of UN agencies and international non-governmental organisations across northern Rakhine remain either suspended or severely interrupted, although some assistance is being delivered by the government and through the Red Cross,” he said.
“The UN and its partners continue to offer support to the government to meet the needs of all affected communities and are liaising with authorities to resume humanitarian operations as soon as possible,” the UN Spokesperson said.