European Commission today pledged an additional amount of Euro30 million (US$35.29m) for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims who crossed into Bangladesh to evade atrocities as the UN opened a major fundraising conference in Geneva to tackle the crisis.
“The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional Euro30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh,” a European Commission (EC) statement said as the Geneva conference was underway.
The European Union (EU) and Kuwait co-hosted the UN’s Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis while the United Nations envoy in Dhaka said the number of Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh stood at nearly one million.
The EC statement said their fresh pledge came on the top of over ?21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities, bringing the total EU support for this year to over Euro51 million (US$60m).
EC’s Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said beyond the immediate response “we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike”.
“Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance,” he said.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the meet “we need more money to keep pace with intensifying needs” while the pledging conference is part of an effort to raise $434 million by February 2018.
“This is not an isolated crisis, it is the latest round in a decades-long cycle of persecution, violence and displacement . . . Children, women and men fleeing Myanmar are streaming into Bangladesh traumatised and destitute,” he added.
Bangladesh envoy to the UN in Geneva Shamim Ahsan said the exodus of nearly 1 million Rohingya caused an “untenable situation” for the host country and despite Myanmar claims to the contrary, violence in Rakhine state did not stop as thousands still continued to cross the border on a daily basis.
“This is the biggest exodus from a single country since the Rwandan genocide in 1994,” he told the conference, which was featured with frequently used words like haunted, slaughtered, raped and disappeared.
About 600,000 people have crossed the border since Aug. 25, when Burmese military launched a crackdown on Rohingyas responding to the alleged insurgent attacks on their security posts in Rakhine state which the United Nations has called “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
“We are here today because, sadly, the needs are even greater than we can provide with our current resources. . . On behalf of the people we are trying to help, we must ask you for more,” World Food Programme’s deputy chief Elisabeth Rasmusson told the conference.