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UNHCR aircraft with emergency relief supplies reach Dhaka

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FT ONLINE

Two chartered aircraft of the UNHCR with emergency relief supplies for 25,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) on Tuesday.

“The two aircrafts, one is landed at 4.30 am and other at 2.15 pm, carried aid for 25,000 individual refugees. Initially, we targeted to bring emergency relief for 120,000 individuals Rohingyas,” UNHCR local spokesperson Joseph Tripura said.

The first aid flight of the UN body carried 91 metric tones of relief, including much needed shelter materials, jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats and other essential items from UNHCR’s global stockpile in Dubai, according to UNHCR web release.

It said the second aid flight, donated to UNHCR by United Arab Emirates (UAE) carried in some 1,700 family tents.

Tripura said further flights are being planned, ultimately delivering emergency aid for some 120,000 refugees in total.

“Biman provided ground handling to the non-scheduled chartered flights of Boeing 777 cargo aircraft of UNHCR at HSIA to offload the relief materials,” Biman’s spokesperson General Manager (public relations) Shakil Meraj said.

The cargo has been loaded onto trucks which will bring the aid to the refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar in south-eastern Bangladesh, the UNHCR release said.

“We now estimate that 370,000 stateless Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since 25 August. The increase in the estimated total is a result of more interagency assessment teams being able to reach more villages, hamlets and pockets where refugees have gathered,” the release noted.

Earlier in Dhaka, the UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh Shinji Kubo said they estimated need of at least 77 million US dollar for first three months to support Rohingya refugees in the country.

The UNHCR web release said that Rohingya refugees continue to arrive at Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, where UNHCR operates. With more than 70,000 refugees now in both camps, the population has more than doubled since 25 August. Both sites are beyond saturation point. Some refugees who have been living in these camps are hosting up to 15 newly-arrived families in their small huts, yet new arrivals are still spilling onto the walkways under plastic sheets. We have opened up public buildings and set up large tents to accommodate the new arrivals, the UNHCR said.

It further said that many of the new refugees are staying in the makeshift settlements or among local Bangladeshi host communities who generously share whatever resources they have. These spontaneous sites require proper planning to ensure basic shelter, safety and hygiene standards.

UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, already arrived in Bangladesh. In Cox’s Bazar, the head of UNHCR operations will meet with Rohingya refugee families to better understand their needs and review UNHCR’s response.

While in Dhaka, he will meet with the Bangladeshi authorities to underline UNHCR’s readiness to significantly ramp up its response and provide support to the government in addressing the humanitarian needs and ensuring the protection of refugees.

-NK

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