Rohingya refugees decry ‘devastating’ cuts to food aid

Published March 3, 2023
Rohingya refugees carry relief material after collecting from a distribution point in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on March 2, 2023. — AFP
Rohingya refugees carry relief material after collecting from a distribution point in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on March 2, 2023. — AFP

KUTUPALONG: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh said on Thursday they are struggling to survive after the United Nations slashed their food aid due to a massive funding gap.

After a $125 million donation shortfall, monthly food vouchers were cut from $12 to $10 per person starting in March, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced, warning further cuts were “imminent” without an immediate cash injection.

The drop has already caused hardship among the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s overcrowded camps, where they are reliant on aid and malnutrition is already rampant.

“We don’t have any income and the rations are reduced,” said refugee Rahela Begum, 40, whose son is ill and malnourished.

“He does not eat rice or other foods but only nutritious nut cream. They have stopped giving the nut cream and I don’t know if he will survive.”

This is the first time assistance has been scaled back since an estimated 750,000 Rohingya fled over the border during a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military that is now subject to a UN genocide investigation.

Bangladesh has struggled to support its immense refugee population since, with the prospect of a wholesale return to Myanmar vanishingly remote.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023

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