The excruciating new cut in food rations for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will have a deadly impact, warned the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) the UN agency has again been forced to make additional cuts to already dwindling food assistance due to critical funding gaps.
Starting on 1 June 2023, the food assistance to nearly a million people in the largest refugee settlement in the world in Cox’s Bazar will fall to 83% of the recognised global humanitarian standard of 2,100 kcal.
“Unfortunately, we know what happens next in these situations. When rations go down, you get a rise in malnutrition alongside compromised immune systems. Tensions increase as people do what they can to survive, potentially leading to increased crime, violence and gender-based violence. In parallel, you get an immediate increased reliance on hazardous coping strategies such as getting further into debt, child marriage, sex for survival, and attempting to leave Bangladesh through irregular routes, increasing the risk of trafficking,” said Wendy McCance, NRC’s country director in Bangladesh.
As one Rohingya refugee mother told NRC’s staff in Bangladesh: “Today we hardly had any food. My 13-year-old son is planning to leave the country by sea. I am afraid. We all know these are deadly journeys.”
When NRC asked her if other refugees were being forced to leave the camp because of the situation, she said: “Yes, we need to survive. Others will try to find informal or dangerous jobs in Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh is home to nearly one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas, but as they lack secure legal status and cannot move freely or work, they rely entirely on humanitarian aid.
“The lack of employment opportunities for Rohingya in Bangladesh, the waning financial commitment from the international community, and the battering the camp took by Cyclone Mocha on 14 May means refugees are at breaking point. They will take increased risks to survive and may pay with their own lives,” said McCance.
WFP’s assistance cuts are compounded by the lack of funding for the Joint Response Plan (JRP). Less than 25 per cent of the funding needed for humanitarian support in 2023 has been received.
“The humanitarian response plan needs to be fully funded to provide some form of relief to the population. Rohingyas are tired of waiting for the world to act and tired of broken promises,” said McCance.
NRC also called for more sustainable solutions.
“We need to stop this endless spiral of suffering by ensuring that refugees have access to livelihoods, land and safe places to live so they can make their own way forward and stop relying on humanitarian aid. This is the only way to save lives,” McCance added.
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)