$72 million needed to protect displaced Rohingya women: Oxfam

The renowned global agency Oxfam called for 15 percent of new funding to be set aside for humanitarian programs designed to better support women and girls, including $72 million among the nearly half a billion dollars recently committed by the World Bank.

Currently, there is no stand-alone budget for meeting women's specific needs in the overall emergency response, Oxfam said in a report, lunched today, titled 'One year On: Time To Put Women and Girls At The Heart Of The Rohingya Response' at its country office here.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam was present as the chief guest at the function while Oxfam Bangladesh country director Dr. Dipankar Datta was in the chair.

The state minister urged the international humanitarian actors to continue their persuasion with Myanmar for access to the Rakhine State so that these needs of Rohingya women and girls could be adequately addressed once they return to their homes.

We would request the international partners to intensify their campaign for permanent solution to the Rohingya problem, he said.

Shahriar said the Myanmar authorities must demonstrate strong political will as well as visible actions to address the discrimination against the Rohingyas.

He hoped that the Oxfam report would provide a guideline for the international donors in prioritizing their contribution and the humanitarian actors in planning and implementation.

Additional support for family planning programmes, women specific health and nutrition needs and separate sanitation facilities would be critical to avoid health hazards in the camps, he observed.

The Oxfam report said the Bangladesh government and agencies have provided emergency aid to more than 700,000 Rohingya people who have arrived over the past year, but the speed at which the world's biggest refugee camp sprang up has made it difficult for support to keep pace.

Oxfam's Advocacy Manager in Cox's Bazar, Dorothy Sang said the breakneck speed at which the Rohingya crisis unfolded meant that many emergency facilities were installed in a rush and women's specific needs weren't considered.

This needs to be rectified urgently with substantial sums set aside to support and protect Rohingya women, such as lighting to improve safety, toilets and wash rooms that provide privacy, and extra assistance for the most vulnerable, he said.

Sang said the Bangladesh Government should be commended for allowing Rohingya people to seek refuge in Cox's Bazar. We join them and others in calling on Myanmar to address the discriminatory policies that are the root cause of this crisis.

Close to a million Rohingya people have sought refuge in Bangladesh following a military campaign against them in Myanmar that has been described by UN officials as 'ethnic cleansing'.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)