Rohingya crisis: There's no plan and not enough money, says Christian Aid

Less than half of the funding needed to help Rohingya refugees has been delivered, according to a new report from Christian Aid.

A year after a 'pledging conference' held at the UN in Geneva aimed at raising funds from international donors, Christian Aid said there was still no long-term plan for protecting those affected by Myanmar's action against its Rohingya minority.

Rohingya refugee children play at no man's land at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh January 12, 2018.Reuters

Its senior adviser Jane Backhurst said: 'A comprehensive, long-range plan is not yet in sight. With a funding gap of more than 50 per cent for this crisis, humanitarian needs must be addressed better.

'It's time to honour the promises. Last year we called for a long-range plan for the protection of all those displaced, as well as improved humanitarian access, with local NGOs and populations driving the provision of humanitarian assistance, and a collective approach to tackle impunity. Without this, the future holds little promise for the Rohingya.'

Around $434 million of funding was required in October 2017, and additional funding requirements doubled within three months of last year's pledging conference to over $950 million. Less than 50 per cent of the total funding requirements for the humanitarian response in 2018 have been met. As a result, thousands have been left without adequate shelter, healthcare, and other essential services.

Shahana Hayat, the humanitarian programme manager at Christian Aid Bangladesh, said: 'Life-saving support is still critical, but support for livelihoods needs to run alongside this. However, it's also about how aid is provided – we have to ensure that we strengthen direct support for local organisations, who have been and will continue to provide unique access to those most in need.'

Christian Aid said the 36 pledges made at last year's conference were a 'good start'. These included an additional £12 million pledged by the UK, and €30 million pledged by the EU, to meet the $328 million gap in funding requirements that had been identified previously by the UN.

However, the charity noted at the time that additional funding would be needed.

Around 671,000 people – mostly women and children – fled Rakhine State in the first seven months after the escalation of violence in August 2017. This led to 'one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world' in neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the 2018 Joint Response Plan, which was issued in March.

A long-term plan is critical, according to Christian Aid, because a range of factors will dictate whether some 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh – including those who fled before the 2017 crisis – will be able to seek safety and assistance there and in Myanmar, adequately recover, and begin to rebuild their lives. Many of them, including children, have witnessed horrific violence, including killing, maiming and other attacks on civilians that are crimes under international law.

Discussions continue on the safe return of refugees to Myanmar, and on the possibility of relocating them to other areas in Bangladesh. In both instances, Christian Aid calls upon the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure that any return or relocation is voluntary, safe, and with dignity.

For more information on Christian Aid's Rohingya Crisis Appeal, click here.