Britain on Thursday announced new funding for Rohingya refugees languishing in camps in Bangladesh after they fled ethnic violence in Myanmar, and urged other donors not to forget their plight at a UN conference.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab outlined a further £47.5 million ($63 million) in aid, both for the Rohingya and to help Bangladesh deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its frequent natural disasters.
The money was pledged as part of a virtual aid conference convening later Thursday, co-hosted by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Britain, the United States and the European Union.
“Today I urge the world not to turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering and to take the action necessary to allow them to safely return to the homes they fled in terror,” Raab said in a statement.
The UNHCR is appealing for more than $1 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees, 860,000 of whom are sheltering in sprawling camps across the Cox’s Bazar district of southeastern Bangladesh, having fled across the border from Myanmar.
“The people living in Cox’s Bazar face unimaginable hardship and many have been victims of violence,” Raab said.
“We have imposed sanctions on the perpetrators of this brutality, and this new funding will save lives in the camp and help Bangladesh become more resilient to disasters such as coronavirus.”
The Rohingya people are widely seen as illegal immigrants in Myanmar, denied citizenship and stripped of rights.
Hundreds of thousands fled across the border during a 2017 military offensive in Myanmar, for which its government faces genocide charges at the UN’s top court.
Britain has sanctioned two Myanmar generals after a UN investigation found them responsible “for atrocities which amount to ethnic cleansing”, according to the British foreign ministry’s statement.