The world’s largest refugee settlement, home to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, is facing a deeper crisis of food insecurity and malnutrition as the United Nations (UN) announces its plan to reduce food aid. The UN cited a funding shortfall as the reason for the cuts, which agencies cautioned on Friday would exacerbate the situation.
In 2017, approximately 730,000 Rohingya, a primarily Muslim minority group from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, fled to Bangladesh to escape an army crackdown that the UN declared was conducted with genocidal intent. Combined with those who departed in previous waves, nearly one million individuals currently reside in shelters constructed of bamboo and plastic sheets.
Beginning next month, the World Food Program (WFP) intends to decrease the worth of its food aid from $12 to $10 per person. Donor resources have been strained due to the pandemic, global crises, and economic downturn.
The World Food Program (WFP) requested immediate funding of $125 million, cautioning of the significant and long-term impacts on food security and nutrition in camps with high levels of malnutrition. Over one-third of children in these camps are underweight and stunted, and the WFP alerted of the severe consequences if adequate aid is not provided.
Save the Children’s country director in Bangladesh, Onno Van Manen, expressed in a statement that the recent decision of the international donor community to reduce aid to half a million Rohingya children and their families demonstrates the constraints of their support towards the most marginalized communities worldwide.
In a statement released by the UN human rights agency, two U.N. special rapporteurs, Michael Fakhri and Thomas Andrews, cautioned about the “devastating consequences” of the funding gap and deemed it “unconscionable” to reduce rations before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.