Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at a makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sept 14. Reuters.
“We are getting concerned,” Mohammed Abdiker Mohamud, director of operations and emergency at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said at a media briefing on Thursday after his visit to Cox’s Bazar.
Refugee agency UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner (Operations) George Okoth-Obbo was also present at the briefing.
Mohamud called for international help to deal with the crisis.
He said international community is “not yet doing enough” in response to the humanitarian crisis created in Cox’s Bazar after the new 400,000 Rohingyas arrived fleeing violence in Myanmar since Aug 25.
“More needs to be done,” he said, appreciating the Bangladesh government for its emergency response to the crisis.
Okoth-Obbo said Bangladesh is facing “quite a serious humanitarian” situation as about 400,000 people entered the country within two and a half weeks.
“This is a very large number and Bangladesh has its own challenges,” he said, adding that there has to be “very strong appreciation and acknowledgement” to the government and people of Bangladesh for giving them shelter.
He, however, said the situation is quite tough and it calls for a “comprehensive response” to the situation.
He said lots need to be done, though lots have been done. “We have to step up across all areas of need.”
He also appreciated the government’s steps for biometric registration of all refugees and said they are ready to assist in that effort.
We are very much delighted for that [biometric registration],” he said, adding that it is “important” to determine the exact number and document their profiles for a proper response to the crisis.
Caught by surprise
Asked about their fears of one million Rohingya influx, IOM official Mohamud said they are estimating both “the best and the worst” case scenarios.
“We cannot just bury our heads in the sand and say everything is okay,” he said. The best-case scenario is when no more would come.
“But we have to think about the worst-case scenario when everybody moves out,” Mohamud said, adding that the whole crisis “caught all of us by surprise”.
“Nobody expected that and nobody was ready to give food, shelter to such a huge number of people,” he said, acknowledging the contribution of people in Cox’s Bazar.
“In Europe we are now complaining about 100,000 people who arrived in 12 months from Libya into Europe.”
“Bangladesh has received almost 400,000 in two and a half weeks. That showed the magnitude of the situation.”