U.N. humanitarian officials, high-level government envoys and advocacy group leaders on Monday opened a one-day conference aimed at drumming up funds to help ethnic Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as the influx from Myanmar has topped 600,000 since late August. The Geneva meeting hosted by the European Union, the government of Kuwait and the United Nations’ migration, refugee and humanitarian aid coordinating agencies aims to help meet a U.N. call for $434 million in funding through February.
Mark Lowcock, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, lamented the “humanitarian and human rights nightmare” faced by the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. He said the main focus of the event was “mobilizing resources to save lives and protect people.”
“Let me be clear: Funding is a major constraint: We need more money to keep pace with the intensifying needs,” he said. “This crisis is far from over: The international attention on the Rohingya has perhaps never been greater. So as we move beyond today’s events, we are counting on governments and partners to maintain momentum on all fronts.”
OCHA spokeswoman Vanessa Huguenin said that as of Monday, international commitments sought since the start of the crisis have reached only 26 percent of the U.N.’s total funding target for the six-month period.
Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the refugee agency UNHCR, said 603,000 people have now crossed into Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar since Aug. 25, when security forces launched a violent crackdown targeting them. Over half of those who have fled are children.