The United Nations will need $200 million over the next six months to face the “catastrophic” influx of more than 420,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh, a top UN official said Friday. The Rohingya Muslims, escaping ethnic unrest in Myanmar, have overwhelmed Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar in under a month.
The UN made an emergency appeal for $78 million on September 9, but UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh, Robert Watkins, said much more would be needed as the exodus grows.
“Our best estimate at this point is $200 million. We are putting together a plan right now that will be ready in about four or five days,” Watkins said. He said aid workers were already struggling to get food, medicine and drinking water to the refugees, many of whom were limited to one meal a day.
The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) group has warned that refugee camps are on the brink of a “public health disaster”, saying filthy water and faeces flow through shanties now bursting with Rohingya. “The fact that there are 430,000 refugees here is in fact a catastrophic event. There is no question about that. We are coping the best we can,” Watkins said.
“We are working very hard with the government to get out assistance to all the people, to make sure that everyone is covered with shelter, getting food and getting access to healthcare and pure water and sanitation. This is our priority right now.” He described the government allocation of new land for a massive new refugee camp as a “big breakthrough”.
The 2,000 acres of land between two existing camps is already being developed. “People have been supplied with building materials so they can build their own shelters in the short term. In the medium term they can build something more resilient.