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Global virtual aid conference to be held for Rohingya refugees

WASHINGTON: A global virtual international donor conference to raise urgently needed humanitarian aid for Rohingya refugees will be held on Oct 22, co-hosted by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

In a joint statement on Thursday (Oct 15) the co-hosts said less than half of the US$1 billion in aid sought by the United Nations in 2020 had been raised, and the crisis facing the Rohingya people was being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference, which will be hosted from Washington, Geneva and Bangkok, aims to raise aid to help displaced Rohingya living both in and outside of their native Myanmar.

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“The Rohingya people have faced horrific brutality and were forced to flee their homes in the worst circumstances imaginable,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the statement.

“We have taken action against the architects of this systemic violence, including through sanctions and we will continue to hold those responsible to account,” he said.

“The UK has also been a leading donor since 2017 to alleviate humanitarian suffering of the Rohingya. The world must wake up to the severity of their plight and come together now to save lives.”

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More than one million Rohingya have fled Myanmar, the vast majority following a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that the United Nations has said was executed with genocidal intent.

The Myanmar authorities deny genocide, saying it was a legitimate response to attacks by Rohingya militants.

More than one million live in sprawling camps in the south of Bangladesh, with as many as a dozen people sharing one shelter and scarce access to soap and water in some areas.

Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee settlement, houses 860,000 Rohingya in camps, while other countries in Southeast Asia host up to an additional 150,000 Rohingya. An estimated 600,000 live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened living conditions, made access to services even more challenging, increased the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and exacerbated the risk of infectious diseases for displaced Rohingya, said the statement.


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