This week sees the third anniversary of the Rohingya crisis when some 700,000 fled violence in Myanmar to camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, and Christian Aid is warning in a new report that the humanitarian need is now higher -- but the response is inadequate.
For the past three years, Christian Aid and other charities have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to provide life-sustaining support to Rohingya living in the camps. These collective efforts have stabilised camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks. But now with Covid-19, these displaced people are dealing with a double crisis.
Physical distancing is not possible in the crowded conditions and many refugees live with substandard sanitation systems. A third of households don't have soap and frequent access to water is difficult for nearly everyone.
The acute humanitarian need - and the inadequate international response -- are outlined in a new Christian Aid report, Honour The Promises -- Three Years On.
Pankaj Kumar, Christian Aid's Country Director, Bangladesh said: "The people of Bangladesh have provided sanctuary to the Rohingya for many years. A long-range plan which responds to the needs of all those affected by the waves of violence in Myanmar and that is comprehensive, integrated and accountable is still desperately needed."
Jane Backhurst, Christian Aid's Senior Adviser, added: "Overall, there is a pattern of both chronic and acute underfunding over a three year period, and a lack of direct funding to local organisations. Funds to address humanitarian needs identified before Covid-19 are still vital, alongside support for frontline organisations."
Christian Aid has supported around 200,000 Rohingya refugees and 50,000 people in the host community since September 2017, prioritising health, water sanitation and hygiene, food security, livelihoods and shelter.
Despite increased entry restrictions to manage the risk of coronavirus, Christian Aid's local partners Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) and Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) continue to work in the camps.
In 2018, one year after the Rohingya crisis pledging conference, Christian Aid called on donors and governments to honour the promises they made.
Three years on from the escalation of violence in August 2017 which triggered one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world and the flight of 671,000 Rohingya from Rakhine in Myanmar to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, the additional humanitarian needs due to Covid-19 makes fulfilling these promises all the more urgent.