The UN as well as the US government, in separate statements have expressed their concern with Bangladesh government’s decision banning three foreign NGOs helping the Rohingya refugees sheltered in Cox’s Bazaar.
Bangladesh government has also been requested to review their decision and allow humanitarian help to the refugees who came to Bangladesh across the border in the face of ethnic atrocities in neighboring Myanmar.
Since the violence flared up in June, Bangladesh in spite of being a Muslim majority country has been denying shelter to the Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing from Rakhanie province in Myanmar on the plea that Bangladesh being an overpopulated country can no more afford to provide shelter to them.
Last week, Bangladesh authorities, asked three foreign NGOs—Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Contre La Faim and Muslim Aid UK to stop activities in and around unofficial camps near Cox’s Bazaar in the southeast of the country.
Defending government actions, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes said the NGO had violated the rules as set by the NGO Bureau for providing help to unregistered refugees.
However, UN refugee agency UNHCR urged theBangladeshgovernment to allow NGOs to continue providing assistance to unregistered refugees who fled fromMyanmar’s Rakhine state. “If the order is implemented, it will have a serious humanitarian impact on some 40,000 unregistered people who had fled Myanmar in recent years and settled in the Leda and Kutupalong makeshift sites,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing on Tuesday.
He further said: “Local villagers nearby will also be affected as they, too, have been benefiting from basic services provided by the NGOs.”
UNHCR urged theBangladeshgovernment to reconsider its decision in line with its long tradition of hospitality towards people who have fledMyanmarover the years. In addition to the unregistered population, there are some 30,000 registered ones living in two official camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Meanwhile, in northern Rakhine state ofMyanmar, UNHCR is watching developments closely following reports of renewed violence over the weekend. The UN refugee agency has received unverified accounts of some villages being burnt in the Kyauk Taw township north of the state capital, Sittwe. Many of the young men have reportedly fled, leaving mainly women and children behind.
The UN and its humanitarian partners have drawn up a plan to assist some 80,000 people who have been displaced or are otherwise affected in Rakhine state since inter-communal clashes broke out in early June.
UNHCR has so far distributed emergency aid to more than 40,000 people: plastic sheets, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and kitchen sets. It is also mobilizing its stocks in Cox’s Bazaar for delivery by boat across the Naf River to Rakhine state once permission is in place.
United Stateshas also expressed its deep concern over theBangladeshgovernment’s ban on the activities of the NGOs that have been providing critical humanitarian aid to Rohingyas residing inBangladesh.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Bangladesh’s stated intent to shut down nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have been providing critical humanitarian aid to Rohingyas residing in Bangladesh,” said a statement of the US Department of State on Tuesday.
The statement issued by Patrick Ventrell, Acting Deputy Spokesperson also urged theBangladeshgovernment to permit these NGOs to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Rohingya, other vulnerable individuals fleeing the violence inMyanmar’sRakhineState, and the local Bangladeshi population in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border region.
“We are continuing to monitor ethnic and sectarian tensions inMyanmar’sRakhineStateand continue to call for restraint, an end to violence, and the upholding of principles of non-discrimination, tolerance, and religious freedom,” Ventrell said.
He further said; “We have consistently urged theMyanmargovernment to reach a peaceful resolution as soon as possible and to bring those responsible for the violence to justice in a timely manner and in accordance with due process.”
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