UN opens key Rohingya fundraising conference

File: More than 600,000 people from the Muslim minority group have fled violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state since August. Photo: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Geneva - The UN opened a major fundraising conference on Monday aimed at securing some of the $434-million  (R5.6-billion) aid groups say is needed to care for Myanmar's Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

More than 600,000 people from the Muslim minority group have fled violence in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state since August.

That has brought the total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to an estimated 900,000, including those who fled before the latest surge in violence.

The pledging conference in Geneva, co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait, is part of an effort to raise $434-million by February 2018.

READ: Bangladesh police hunt man who married Rohingya refugee

A total of $100 million had been delivered or promised before the conference opened, and the EU pledged an addition 30 million euros on Monday. 

"We are here today because, sadly, the needs are even greater than we can provide with our current resources," the deputy chief of the World Food Programme, Elisabeth Rasmusson, told the conference. 

"On behalf of the people we are trying to help, we must ask you for more."

The funds will benefit the 900,000 refugees as well as roughly 300,000 local people from Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar area on the Myanmar border.

The local community, and Bangladesh's government, have been broadly praised for the response to Rohingya refugee influx, notably for keeping the border open.

READ: Eight killed as Rohingya boat sinks

Rohingya refugees have headed for Bangladesh in huge numbers after militant attacks on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state sparked a major army crackdown on the community likened to ethnic cleansing by the UN.

Rohingyas have been systematically deprived of basic rights over decades in majority Buddhist Myanmar.

In the latest crackdown, Myanmar's security forces have fired indiscriminately on unarmed civilians, including children, and committed widespread sexual violence, according to UN investigators.
  
 

AFP

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