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Indonesian, Bangladeshi Foreign Ministers Visit Refugee Camps, Settlements with IOM, UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi discusses the situation with an IOM staffer. Photo: IOM

December 20, 2016

Bangladesh - IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Sarat Dash and UNHCR Bangladesh Country Representative Shinji Kubo Tuesday have accompanied Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Bangladesh Minister of Foreign Affairs Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali on a field visit to Cox’s Bazar to see the developing crisis of civilians fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to seek protection in Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Marsudi visited Bangladesh on a one-day familiarisation visit, during which she is also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to discuss the evolving situation. Her visit to Bangladesh comes on the wake of an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers meeting in Yangon organized by the Government of Myanmar in an effort to reduce regional concerns over the situation in the northern part of Rakhine State.

The high level delegates visited a registered refugee camp and a makeshift settlement in the Cox’s Bazar district of Ukhia, where they met both with refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMN), who have been in the country for many years. They also met with those who have arrived since the violence erupted in early October 2016. The discussions with the community allowed the visitors to better understand the ground realities that have forced some 34,000 civilians to cross the border into Bangladesh in recent weeks and months.

Both IOM and UNHCR also had an opportunity to raise awareness around service areas that will require strengthening to ensure the needs of the new arrivals are met, without diluting the existing services further. This visit was also helpful to understand the protection and assistance needs of the new arrivals. 

UNHCR and its partners work in the two registered refugee camps covering protection and basic needs for some 32,000 individuals, starting from registration, access to justice, child protection, response to sexual and gender-based violence, livelihood trainings, non-food items to water and sanitation.

IOM and its partners work in the makeshift settlements and neighbouring host communities reaching about 100,000 of the most vulnerable. The services provided to the Unregistered Myanmar Nationals include health care, water and sanitation support, non-formal education and responses to sexual and gender-based violence.

“UNHCR encourages the Government of Bangladesh to allow people to seek safety from the ongoing violence in Myanmar and have access to immediate safety and essential humanitarian assistance,” said Shinji Kubo. “UNHCR stands ready to provide support and can play an important role in the coordination of a refugee response, as well as advocacy with the international community to support and enhance resources.”

Sarat Dash added: “IOM has been able to provide assistance to the most vulnerable in Cox’s Bazar, as the lead UN agency nominated by the national strategy on the situation adopted by the Bangladesh Cabinet in 2013. With support from the government, we are currently expanding our programs to ensure we can reach out to the latest arrivals, but resources are being stretched thin. We hope this high level visit will bring much-needed focus to this forgotten crisis and speed the possibility of a political solution.”

The delegation was also accompanied by Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwan Wiranata-atmadja, and Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Md. Shahidul Haque.

For further information please contact Sarat Dash at IOM Bangladesh. Tel: +8801534003304, Email

Original here.

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