By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh: China is mobilizing US$ 1.5 million to support Rohingya refugee women in Bangladesh to improve hygiene services, according to a media statement issued by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Wednesday.
“Over 60,000 Rohingya women and girls, between twelve and 50 years old, will benefit from the support through China’s assistance body, the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), until 2025,” said the statement.
The South Asian delta nation, Bangladesh, is currently hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in 33 congested makeshift camps in the southern border district of Cox’s Bazar, which is also considered to be the world’s largest refugee camp.
Most of these displaced people fled military crackdowns in their homeland of Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017 though the government of the Southeast Asian state claimed as the drive against separatist militants, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), who allegedly attacked 30 security force outposts in northern Rakhine State in the early morning of August 25, 2017.
Underlining the Chinese latest support as generous in a critical time, the UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh Sumbul Rizvi said: “This generous support from China comes at a crucial time, as we are into the seventh year of the current Rohingya refugee crisis.”
Under this grant support, Rohingya refugee women and girls have been receiving two hygiene kits each year, the statement said, adding that the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) would partner with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to ensure over 250,000 kits.
“China assumes its responsibility as a major country and provides assistance to help the displaced people improve (their) living conditions,” the statement quotes Yao Wen, Ambassador of China to Bangladesh, as saying.
He also assured that China would look forward to undertaking more initiatives with the UNHCR in the future.
He, however, noted that the long-term solution to the crisis lies in the repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar.
A tripartite “joint working mechanism” by Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar for the peaceful and dignified repatriation of Rohingya refugees to their home country is in work and China is expected to play a pivotal role in the process.
“UNHCR and the Chinese Government will collaborate to provide these kits. Chinese funding will ensure the provision of some items, including bathing and laundry soaps, as well as buckets,” said the statement.
It added that over 200 women in Cox’s Bazar, from the refugee and Bangladeshi host communities, will work to produce the remaining items for the hygiene kits. It allows them to put their skills to use for their community, while also gaining an opportunity for limited self-reliance and livelihoods to support themselves.
In 2023, humanitarian agencies have appealed for more than US$ 876 million to support almost 1.5 million people including 960,000 Rohingya refugees and 495,000 Bangladeshis in neighboring communities. By early December 2023, the Joint Response Plan was approximately 50 percent funded.