July 1, 2022, 7:11 am

Nirmal Barman

2018-03-22 06:08:33 BdST

UNHCR ambassador calls for increased international support for Rohingys


UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett on Wednesday warned of a "race against time" to protect Rohingya refugees from the worst impacts of the upcoming monsoon season in Bangladesh.

"Heavy rains, potential cyclones and adverse weather conditions are threatening to put more than one hundred thousand Rohingya refugees living in congested settlements in Cox's Bazaar district at serious risk in the coming months," she said in Geneva.

Blanchett, on return from a visit to Bangladesh this week, called for urgent action to support UNHCR and its partners working with Bangladesh government to avoid an "emergency within an emergency", an UNHCR press release issued in Geneva yesterday said.

Since August 2017 over 671,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have sought safety in Bangladesh.

"The Rohingya refugees have already experienced targeted violence, human rights abuses and horrific journeys...They have shown unimaginable resilience and courage," Blanchett said.

She added, "But now, as the monsoon season approaches, the government of Bangladesh, supported by UNHCR and its partners, are in a race against time to ensure the refugees are as safe as they can be to deal with potential floods and landslides."

Calling for the international community to show solidarity and share the responsibility of this crisis with Bangladesh government Blanchett said the people of Bangladesh and host communities have been the first to respond to this crisis.

"But I cannot stress how much more help is needed for these vulnerable stateless refugees, the majority of whom are women and children," she said describing it as the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

Blanchett said the Rohingys are a stateless minority and the people and government of Bangladesh have shown tremendous generosity and hospitality in the face of this influx.

Kevin J. Allen, Head of UNHCR's emergency operation in Cox's Bazaar said, "Bangladesh saved thousands of lives when it opened its borders and arms to Rohingya refugees."

"It is now critical that we stand firmly by Bangladesh and the refugees we serve to protect them from cyclonic winds and heavy rains," Kevin said.

UNHCR is working to build dignified and decent lives for the stateless Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including access to healthcare, education, shelter and self-reliance.

The solutions to this refugee crisis lie in Myanmar, and UNHCR has therefore called on Myanmar to create conditions in Rakhine State that would permit the safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees who voluntarily choose to return to their homes.

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