In a joint statement released, 61 local, national and international NGOs working in the two countries called for human rights for all to be recognized in Rakhine State and for Rohingya refugees to have a role in decision-making about their own lives, including conditions for their return to Myanmar.
The NGOs voiced strong concerns about the safety of affected families in Rakhine State, including Rohingya, as the conflict escalates and humanitarian access remains limited. They urged the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that any return process be safe, voluntary and dignified, as news of the possible expedited repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya refugees circulated this week.
Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Bangladesh, Manish Agrawal said, “The future of Rohingya refugees is at stake. Refugees tell us that they need more than just humanitarian aid. They need opportunities for education, for training and to build their own livelihoods, which will enable them to thrive in years to come and when it comes to return to Myanmar if conditions become conducive, they return stronger.”
Manish Agrawal also said, “As we mark two years, and wait for conditions in Myanmar to improve for safe and dignified return, the International Rescue Committee calls on donors around the world to step up their support for the almost one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including ensuring that the response is fully funded, and urges the Government of Bangladesh to continue their hospitality.”
For the past two years, NGOs have assisted the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to effectively provide life-sustaining support to people living in the world’s largest refugee camp.
Their collective efforts have stabilized camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks. But more needs to be done. The agencies called on the international community to increase funding for the humanitarian response in Bangladesh and Myanmar to improve the lives of refugees and host communities, as well as internally displaced persons.