Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, will today announce funding of £47.5 million to help Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Mr Raab will make the announcement ahead of an international summit Britain is co-hosting on the Rohingya crisis, which began in 2017 when a brutal Burmese military crackdown forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
Some 860,000 Rohingya now live in squalid conditions in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, the world’s largest refugee camp. The coronavirus has made the situation in the packed and unsanitary camp even more desperate.
The Foreign Office says the money will be used to provide food, healthcare, water and sanitation, as well as care and counselling for those traumatised by violence. It will also be spent on improving 50,000 young people's access to an education, and creating isolation and treatment centres for Covid-19 sufferers.
The package includes £10 million to help Bangladesh respond to the pandemic and natural disasters, such as flooding.
Mr Raab’s announcement brings Britain’s overall aid for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to nearly £300 million since 2017.
The UN has estimated that it needs $1 billion (£765 million) this year to provide Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh with shelter, food, water and cooking gas, but so far less than half of that has been raised.
Thursday’s one-day conference, also hosted by the US, EU and the UN refugee agency, will urge countries to pledge funds to address the shortfall.
The Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority group, have faced discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades. In 2017, the Myanmar government launched a military crackdown in Rakhine state, leading to an exodus of Rohingya who experienced atrocities including murder, rape and torture.
In July, Britain sanctioned two Myanmar generals for their involvement in the systematic and brutal violence, which the UN has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Mr Raab said: “The people living in Cox’s Bazar face unimaginable hardship and many have been victims of violence. 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.
“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.”