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17 Oct 2017
UNHCR concerned about stranded Rohingya refugees
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is urging authorities in Bangladesh to admit thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded near the border with Myanmar.
It’s estimated that up to 15,000 are squatting in paddy fields after having entered the country through a crossing point in the south-east on Sunday and Monday.
The new arrivals had been walking for about a week.
They will join some 582,000 Rohingya, a Muslim minority community, who have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August.
Here’s UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic speaking on Tuesday to reporters in Geneva:
“UNHCR and our partners, the Bangladesh Red Crescent and Action against Hunger, are delivering food and water to the stranded refugees, among them children, women and the elderly who are dehydrated and hungry from the long journey. Our staff are working with Médecins Sans Frontières to identify the sick for treatment. We are advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence and increasingly difficult conditions back home. Every minute counts given the fragile condition they’re in.”
Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns that a funding shortfall could affect its support to Rohingya children in Bangladesh, where needs are far outpacing resources.
The agency says it has received just seven percent of the US$76 million required over the next six months.
Support for migrants, refugees, held by smugglers in Libya
In more news from UNHCR:
Humanitarian agencies have been providing lifesaving assistance to more than 14,500 migrants and refugees held captive by smugglers in Libya.
They were being held in locations such as farms, houses and warehouses in and around the coastal city of Sabratha, scene of recent fighting.
The Libyan authorities estimate that smugglers could be holding an additional 6,000 people, said UNHCR.
The migrants and refugees were taken to a hangar, which has been serving as an assembly point, before being transferred by the authorities to official detention centres.
They had suffered what UNHCR teams on the ground described as “a shocking scale” of abuse.
Hundreds were discovered with no clothes or shoes, while scores are in need of urgent medical care, with some suffering from bullet wounds and other visible signs of abuse.
Most said they were subjected to human rights abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour and sexual exploitation.
UNHCR has supplied more than 15 truckloads of relief items for the migrants and refugees, including sleeping mats, mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits and winter jackets.
However, the assembly points and detention centres are now full and lack basic amenities such as water tanks and sanitation facilities, while many of the people, including children, have been forced to sleep outdoors.
Cash assistance programme for refugees in Turkey reaches milestone: WFP
A programme that provides refugees in Turkey with monthly cash assistance through debit cards has reached one million people in the past year, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Tuesday.
The Emergency Social Safety Net programme allows refugee families to withdraw around US$34 from banking machines, or to use the cards in shops, to cover their basic needs.
Funded by the European Union, it is currently the biggest cash assistance operation for refugees anywhere in the world.
This is the first year the programme has been in place, and WFP said data shows the money has been spent primarily on food, utilities and rent.
Turkey is hosting three million refugees: the largest refugee population in the world, according to the UN agency.
The majority, more than 90 per cent, are from neighbouring Syria.
Ana Carmo, United Nations.