ALERT – Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Geneva | October 23, 2017

Today Handicap International participated to a pledging conference to emphasize the need for financial support for life-saving assistance to the rohingya refugees. The Conference is co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Kuwait, and co-organized by IOM, OCHA and UNHCR. Its objectives are to: “Mobilize urgently needed resources to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance […]

Today Handicap International participated to a pledging conference to emphasize the need for financial support for life-saving assistance to the rohingya refugees.

The Conference is co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Kuwait, and co-organized by IOM, OCHA and UNHCR. Its objectives are to:

  • “Mobilize urgently needed resources to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection to refugees in Bangladesh and its host communities, including proper registration, as set out in the Response Plan.
  • Demonstrate solidarity with the Government of Bangladesh and host communities, acknowledging the political, economic, social, developmental, and humanitarian and human rights ramifications of the refugees who have fled Northern Rakhine, as well as the need to address their most urgent needs while promoting their resilience for which a comprehensive approach is necessary in line with the New Way of Working.
  • Promote a response demonstrating full respect for international law, international human rights law, international refugee law, and where applicable, international humanitarian law, including for the protection and freedom of movement of civilians, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, and accountability for any violations.
  • Promote safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of the refugees to the place of origin. The origins of the crisis are in Myanmar, and finding a sustainable solution to the situation in Northern Rakhine will remain critical. Advocacy efforts should continue for a credible, practical and speedy return process.”

Pledging Conference Rohingya Refugee CrisisSince 25 August, more than half a million people, mostly Rohingya refugees, have fled violence and insecurity in Myanmar and sought refuge in Bangladesh. Handicap International has expressed alarm at the plight of thousands of destitute people arriving in the country every day. The needs of refugees are far from being met at this stage.

 

Handicap International took part to the conference to remind participants of the biggest challenges of this crisis, among them the access to humanitarian aid and the inclusion of the most vulnerable and isolated people in humanitarian aid.

Speech by Ludovic Bourbé, Director of the Development Division, Handicap International Federation

Distinguished guest, colleagues,

The crisis we are now facing is unprecedented.

Handicap International has been providing support to Rohingyas refugees in Bangladesh since 2007 in Cox Bazar, directly in camps and informal makeshift.

While the situation was already harsh, new people arriving in Bangladesh are desperate, exhausted by days and weeks of walk, sometimes crossing  minefields, nights hidden in the forest, carrying on their shoulders all that they could save in their exile.

The capacity to absorb this massive influx is still limited and access to the population remains dire.

Since the beginning of the crisis, a blanket approach has been favored by the donors and humanitarian actors, and it is still very much needed.

But, this approach ignores and leaves aside the extremely vulnerable one. Single mothers cannot, leave their children unattended to go to distribution sites. People with mobility problem, the elderly, sick and injured people, and unaccompanied children cannot even physically go to the distribution sites, clinics or service centers. Lost in the middle of close to 600,000 refugees this people face life threatening risks, protection and require targeted support yet to be provided.

The level of vulnerabilities is unparalleled.

A rapid assessment we conducted for UNHCR in September among close to 2000 extremely vulnerable individuals highlighted the level of vulnerabilities.

All people are in desperate need of clothing, drinkable water, food and shelter, more than 65 % require psychosocial first aid as they had to go through extreme traumatizing experiences.

7, 3 % of the people assessed are person with disabilities, in dire need of functional rehabilitation and in urgent need of assistive devices to get their autonomy back as many of them lost it/ being broken during the escape. Elderly people are for the vast majority without caretakers.  Those figures are not just a sample; they are representative of a crisis where the most at risk person and in need immediate attention. We need to hear their voices.

We must all recognize that the government of Bangladesh has made tremendous efforts and we urge the government to continue doing so and facilitate the response of INGOs by easing authorizations and lifting bureaucratic constraints.

The size of the humanitarian disaster we are facing requires the expertise of all to meet the needs of these 600,000 children, women and men. Their living conditions are appalling. Inhuman to say the truth.

And yet, it could get even worse if the camps were to endure, in the weeks to come, severe weather conditions in the form of a tropical storm or cyclone or a disease outbreak. This risk is far too real not to be considered.

Handicap International is on the ground, ready to continue and expand its support toward the most vulnerable.

We shall all make sure nobody is forgotten.


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