05/24/2023, 14.50
Send to a friend

Cox's Bazaar: UN cutting food rations for Rohingya refugees

by Sumon Corraya

The World Food Programme says it is forced by lack of funds, despite the recent devastation wrought by Cyclone Mocha. According to some observers, many refugees may feel forced to return to Myanmar's Rakhine State, where the situation remains difficult due to the civil war.

Cox's Bazar (AsiaNews) – Rohingya refugees are concerned over the United Nations's decision to reduce their food rations; up to a million of them live in camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it was forced to reduce support due to lack of funds. This is the UN agency’s second cut in three months, and comes at a time of great difficulty for people in the area following the passage of Cyclone Mocha, which hit Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which borders Bangladesh, on 14 May.

According to the United Nations, at least 800,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

A spokesperson for the organisation, Kun Li, told the media that after dropping from US$ 12 to US$ 10 a month, subsidies will be further reduced from US$ 10 to US$ 8 a month starting 1 June. About US$ 56 million is needed to continue providing full rations, he explained.

Peter Saiful is an ethnic Rohingya. Unlike most of his fellow Rohingya who are Muslim, he is Christian, a member of the Bethel Church Rohingya Christian Fellowship, a Protestant denomination.

“A lot of criminal groups want the Rohingya to misuse benefits. And youth may get involved as well,” he said, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Since the Bangladeshi government does not allow the Rohingya to work, some may flee the camp to make money in random areas of the country,” he added.

Ultimately, “if people don’t receive the food they need to survive, different diseases could increase; some refugees may agree to go back home even if the environment is not safe,” he noted describing the risks that the UN’s decision may generate.

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar's military ousted the civilian government, setting off a bloody civil war.

Starting in 2017, ethnic Rohingya, who live mostly in the north-western state of Rakhine, fled to Bangladesh to escape violence by the military, who have persecuted them and made them stateless.

"Bangladesh cannot force the Rohingya to leave except through voluntary repatriation. No Rohingya has agreed to go," Saiful said. However, “by trying to force the World Food Programme to reduce food rations and basic necessities, they are trying to push the Rohingya to go back," he added.

Last week, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the BBC that Bangladesh had welcomed the Rohingya and respected their human rights.

"When they suffered we allowed them to come to our country,” she said. “We met all [the requirement] meant for them. [Some] 40,000 women were pregnant”.

Above all, “We make sure they get all the treatment [they need], their food, everything. At the beginning, nobody came forward. It is Bangladesh people, people from our country, [who] came forward and [. . .] supported them”.

Meanwhile, conditions in the camps have progressively deteriorated. At least 164 people have been killed in the past five and a half years.

Some Rohingya are involved in drugs and human trafficking, and the violence appears to be due to feuds among various groups for control of the drug trade within the camp.

Recently, some Bangladeshi soldiers have been killed during ambushes by ethnic militias operating out of Myanmar. For this reason, Bangladeshi authorities are taking a grimmer view of so many refugees on their territory.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Prime Minister Hasina warns that crime is up among increasingly frustrated Rohingya
26/05/2022 17:11
International aid for Rohingya in Cox's Bazar camps declines
20/05/2021 16:41
Violent feud breaks out again between armed groups in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar
06/12/2023 14:07
Caritas helping Rohingya to stop deforestation in Cox's Bazar
08/09/2018 06:23
HRW condemns armed gang violence against Rohingya in Cox's Bazaar
14/07/2023 20:42


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”