“The ration cuts are our last resort. Many donors have stepped forward with funding but what we have received is simply not enough,” Dom Scalpelli, WFP Country Director in Bangladesh, said in a release on Wednesday.
“It is absolutely critical that we give the Rohingya families back the full assistance they deserve. The longer we wait, the more hunger we will see in the camps – already we are seeing more children being admitted into malnutrition treatment programs.”
Over 950,000 Rohingyas remain stranded in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, southern Bangladesh. Most of them fled their homes in northern Myanmar following widespread and systemic attacks in August 2017 by the country’s armed forces that former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which has been assisting the Rohingya refugees since the crisis erupted, said that the WFP food assistance is the “only reliable source they can count on to meet their basic food and nutrition needs.”
“But since the start of the year, this lifeline has been under severe pressure due to reduced donor funding.”
Alongside fresh food assistance, WFP implements nutrition programs for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five years of age.
The only solution to prevent the situation from deteriorating further is to restore the full rations for the entire Rohingya population immediately, UNHCR said.
The 2023 Rohingya humanitarian crisis response plan, which requires about $875 million to reach the nearly one million refugees in need, is only a quarter funded.
The impacts of such cuts are particularly devastating for women and children, who make up more than 75% of the refugee population and face higher risks of abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence, UNHCR warned.