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Rohingya Donor Conference and Funding

Volume 682: debated on Thursday 22 October 2020

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following written statement:

The UK is co-hosting a donor conference today for the Rohingya refugee response, alongside the United States, European Union and UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

Bringing together donor countries and partners from the region, this conference will rally international support for the Rohingya humanitarian response in Bangladesh, Myanmar and other countries hosting Rohingya refugees in the region. Our aim is to ensure sustained support for Rohingya refugees and displaced populations, while working towards long-term durable solutions.

Maintaining international funding will become increasingly difficult over time—yet three years on from the terrible violence that erupted in August 2017, the Rohingya remain one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. I pay tribute to the resilience, courage and tenacity of the Rohingya people. I also express our gratitude to the Government and people of Bangladesh for hosting the 860,000 refugees currently living in Cox’s Bazar district.

The UK continues to support the Rohingya on both sides of the Myanmar-Bangladesh border while we push for a long-term solution that enables their voluntary, safe, and dignified return to Myanmar. This includes advocating for the implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations, including reform of citizenship laws and freedom of movement. The UK is clear that there must be accountability for atrocities. This will be fundamental to give the Rohingya people confidence that it is safe to return.

The UK is already one of the biggest donors supporting the Rohingya. The crisis remains a priority and we have worked hard to prioritise resources to maintain assistance in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

I am therefore pleased to announce that this Government are committing a further £37.5 million to the Rohingya response operation in Bangladesh to continue our life-saving support, a total of £293.5 million committed to the crisis since 2017. This funding supports refugees in Cox’s Bazar with protection, food, healthcare, water and sanitation, counselling, and will help mitigate the impact of natural disasters and disease, in addition to supporting local communities.

Covid-19 has created an additional dimension to the adversity Rohingya communities have faced. So far, UK aid has added more than 2,400 handwashing facilities in the camps and created capacity for over 600 beds for treating refugees and locals alike suffering from severe respiratory infections. I am happy to announce that we are also committing £10 million support for Bangladesh to help the country respond to coronavirus and natural disasters nationally.

In the meantime, providing education for Rohingya children and livelihood opportunities for adults is fundamental to equipping Rohingya with the essential knowledge and skills for their future in Myanmar and to prevent a lost generation. It is also the best guard against rising domestic violence, criminality and tensions between the refugee and host communities. Significant material support will be needed for the foreseeable future to uphold basic standards of living.

The UK also provides significant support to the Rohingya in conflict-affected Rakhine state in Myanmar. This includes over £25 million since 2017 for Rohingya communities for nutrition, water, health and sanitation, protection, skills and livelihoods support. UK aid is also working hard to respond to the additional health and humanitarian needs brought on by covid-19, amidst access restrictions.

We hope that the international community will continue to demonstrate its strong commitment to the humanitarian response and find solutions for the Rohingya that will enable them to return home voluntarily, safely and with dignity. We will continue to push for regional and international attention and support in helping manage and resolve the crisis.