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June 2023

Episode: KPN 19-06-2023

Kaladan Radio June 19, 2023 823 9


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Rohingyas in need of further assistance amidst deepening vulnerability

6 years into the Rohingya refugee crisis, nearly 1 million Rohingya remain stranded in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh, their plight far from over.

With few employment opportunities and their movement restricted, the Rohingya in the camps have no other means to support themselves, relying solely on humanitarian assistance.

Since 2017, the EU has contributed over €50 million in funding towards WFP’s emergency operations, including the food assistance lifeline that the entire Rohingya population has been counting on to meet their basic food and nutrition needs.

As their vulnerability deepens amidst the global food, the fuel crisis and rising domestic inflation and dwindling foreign reserves, this lifeline has been under serious threat due to funding shortfalls.

In March, WFP was forced to reduce the food voucher value from US$12 to US$10 per person per month. The Rohingya families spent Ramadan and Eid coping with the reduced food assistance. Then a large fire broke out in the camps, destroying shelters, along with health and nutrition centres, leaving nearly 20,000 people homeless overnight.

Then on 14 May, Cyclone Mocha, the strongest storm to strike the Bay of Bengal in over a decade, hit the camps. Heavy rains and winds triggered flash floods and landslides, washing away roads and damaging shelters. Some 15,000 children were affected with their learning centres damaged.

“In March, WFP was forced to reduce the food voucher value from US$12 to US$10 per person per month. The Rohingya families spent Ramadan and Eid coping with the reduced food assistance. Then a large fire broke out in the camps, destroying shelters, along with health and nutrition centres, leaving nearly 20,000 people homeless overnight. While the needs are rising, the funding gap persists. With over €50 million remaining unfunded, the food assistance programme will soon be cut again, from US$10 to US$ 8 per person per month starting in June 2023.”

While the needs are rising, the funding gap persists. With over €50 million remaining unfunded, the food assistance programme will soon be cut again, from US$10 to US$ 8 per person per month starting in June 2023.

With already high levels of hunger and malnutrition, the repercussions of another ration cut will be devastating. Not only will it impact nutrition, but education, protection and safety and security, as parents may withdraw their children from school and let them work, offer their daughters to early marriage and risk their lives to leave the camps.

Below is a collection of some of the Rohingya men, women and children we met in recent months, who opened up to us about their struggles to make ends meet. They asked us not to cut their food rations and bring them back to what they were before. Here are their words.

“We are managing with very little food, insufficient food. My children cry for more food, but how can we manage the food if we cannot afford it?” Arofa says following the ration cut. With a compromised diet, the repercussions will be dire for children.

Barely reeling from the impacts of the previous ration cut, Shamsu is worried there might be further cuts. In an attempt to somehow survive with the decreased ration, he is having to sacrifice his meal to feed his children.

“We are managing with very little food, insufficient food. My children cry for more food, but how can we manage the food if we cannot afford it? We cannot eat fully. We have to eat half of what we did before. I am happy about WFP’s food voucher system. It’s a big problem. It’s bigger than any other problem. We cannot eat properly.”

The voice of Rohingya refugee from Camp

“We cannot eat fully. We have to eat half of what we did before,” said Yasin, 20, one of the Rohingya refugees receiving food assistance from WFP.

Whenever a fire breaks out, our partner WFP provides immediate food assistance including fortified biscuits, hot meals and dry food rations to help those affected. Over the past 2 years, there were over 220 fires recorded in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Kulsuma lives with her husband Mohammad Amin and 4 children in the Rohingya camps. With EU-supported vouchers, families like Kulsuma’s can redeem food items of their choice at WFP outlets.

I am happy about WFP’s food voucher system,” said Alamara, a resident in the Rohingya camps. With our support, WFP has transformed the way refugees receive food, as it offers them a chance to choose which food to buy rather than being handed out.

Abdullah met with an accident a year ago and his leg had to be amputated. He wants to receive a prosthetic leg so that he can start working again. But that comes second to his other wish – to educate his children and feed them well.

“Whenever a fire breaks out, our partner WFP provides immediate food assistance including fortified biscuits, hot meals and dry food rations to help those affected. Over the past 2 years, there were over 220 fires recorded in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. The repercussions of WFP’s ration cut will be felt particularly hard by children like them. Even before the ration cut in March, 12% of children were acutely malnourished and 41% of children were chronically malnourished.”

“It’s a big problem. It’s bigger than any other problem. We cannot eat properly,” said Shamsu. Already living in high levels of vulnerability, food insecurity and malnutrition rates, the aftermath of the reduced ration has been far-reaching.

The repercussions of WFP’s ration cut will be felt particularly hard by children like them. Even before the ration cut in March, 12% of children were acutely malnourished and 41% of children were chronically malnourished.

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