The European Commission has announced today €39 million in humanitarian aid to address the needs of displaced and conflict-affected communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar, in particular in the context of the pressing Rohingya refugee crisis, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič i, said: "The recent military overthrow of the legitimate government in Myanmar risks worsening the already dire humanitarian crisis faced by displaced and conflict-affected populations. The EU will continue to provide strong humanitarian aid support directly to the most vulnerable population. In Bangladesh, the COVID-19 crisis is aggravating the already difficult conditions experienced by almost one million Rohingya refugees in camps and for host communities. In both countries, recurrent natural hazards further increase vulnerabilities. In this this challenging time, the EU is stepping up its long-standing humanitarian assistance to those most in need.”
Humanitarian partners working in Bangladesh and Myanmar will receive €24.5 million and €11.5 million respectively to respond to key humanitarian and disaster preparedness needs. An additional €3 million will address vital protection needs of stateless Rohingya in other countries of the region. The newly announced emergency support will help EU humanitarian partners deliver food, nutrition, shelter, and essential health, water, and sanitation services to the most vulnerable and hard to reach populations, while continuing to sustain education and protection. The humanitarian assistance funded by the EU is delivered in partnership with UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs. All EU humanitarian funding is provided in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
For decades, Bangladesh has provided a safe haven for Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. However, a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in August 2017 caused the massive influx of an additional 740,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, creating a severe humanitarian emergency. Bangladesh is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural hazards that include cyclones, floods and earthquakes.
Conflict in Myanmar is marred by widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting in substantial humanitarian needs. More than 336,000 people in Myanmar have been internally displaced, a large majority of whom are in situations of protracted displacement in Rakhine, Kachin, Kayin and Shan states, with limited access to basic services. An estimated 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State, of which around 126,000 are effectively confined to camps or camp-like settings that were established in 2012, and so still cannot move freely. Restricted humanitarian access to several areas hampers the ability of international aid organisations to provide crucial assistance to people in need. Recurrent natural hazards also increase the vulnerability of people living in disaster-prone areas. In 2020, the EU provided €19 million in humanitarian aid to Myanmar. The EU works with trusted humanitarian partners to address the protection, food, nutrition and health needs of the most vulnerable people, particularly in Rakhine, Chin, Kachin and Shan states. Following the violence in August 2017, the EU has stepped up its humanitarian assistance in the form of food, nutritional care, healthcare, water and sanitation, coordination, and protection, including mine education. The EU will closely monitor the humanitarian situation in Myanmar, in light of the recent developments, in order to step up the humanitarian response further, if needed.
In 2020, the European Union provided €39.8 million in humanitarian aid in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, as well as disaster preparedness and response in other parts of Bangladesh.