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Caritas appeals for aid for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Global concern for their crisis has dwarfed due to other emergencies like the Ukraine war and the Palestine conflict
Rohingya refugees look through the debris of their houses charred by a fire at the Ukhia camp in Cox's Bazar on June 1.

Rohingya refugees look through the debris of their houses charred by a fire at the Ukhia camp in Cox's Bazar on June 1. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 07, 2024 11:04 AM GMT
Updated: June 07, 2024 03:18 PM GMT

Caritas Internationalis, a global charity network, has made a passionate call to help it raise US$7 million to aid Rohingya refugees, victims of conflicts in Myanmar, as attention has moved away from them amid many other global emergencies.

“We must not forget the Rohingya people or take the support of the Bangladesh government for granted,” said Alistair Dutton, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, the agency that coordinates the Church's charity works across the globe.

Rohingya families are “among the most vulnerable people in our world today without the right to work,” said the leader of the Church charity in Dhaka on June 6.

Dutton was speaking to the media after visiting Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh's Cox’s Bazar, the world's largest refugee settlement that houses over 1 million Rohingya refugees from neighboring civil war-hit Myanmar.

Teenagers “have now spent half of their life” in camps," he said.

Dutton’s visit follows Pope Francis' recent renewed appeal to solve the Rohingyas refugee crisis. Francis met a Rohingya group during his visit to Bangladesh in 2017.

Global aid for Rohingya has decreased amid other emergencies like the Ukraine war and the Palestine conflict.

According to Caritas Bangladesh, global funds to meet the food expenses of Rohingya refugees have come down to $10 from $12 per person per month.

Bangladesh faces a foreign currency crisis, and skyrocketing inflation has made essential goods dearer.

Bangladesh’s appeal for US$852.4 million in aid to help the refugees also missed its target, and the densely populated nation has beefed up security to prevent a further refugee influx.

Caritas plans to give the community $7 million in aid in 2024. Between 2017 and 2023, the papal charity spent $45 million in emergency efforts for Rohingya refugees and on host community members in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh does not allow the refugees to work and their mobility is restricted within the camps. Education and health facilities are reported to be the namesake.

“Over the past six years, more than 200,000 children have been born in these camps, Dutton observed.

Dutton added that they had never seen their home country and had no nationality.

“They are stateless,” said the leader of the Church charity.

Dutton said that the temporary camps made of bamboo and plastic sheets can perish quickly.

“In the last two weeks, there were two fires that damaged hundreds of camps,” he noted.

On June 7, after winding up his three-day visit to Bangladesh, he flew to Myanmar, where armed rebels are giving a tough time to the ruling military.

In Rakhine, the home state of Rohingyas on the southeastern Bangladesh border, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been displaced as the fighting increased this year.

According to the United Nations, some 15,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter close to the border of Bangladesh.

Caritas Asia president, Benedict Alo D’ Rozario, said the organization was working with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and India to help repatriate Rohingya refugees.

Given the current situation in Myanmar, the repatriation is unlikely, Dutton said.

In Myanmar, Dutton plans to meet leaders of the bishops’ conference where Caritas runs similar programs.

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