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Bangladesh urges more international pressure on Myanmar to end Rohingya crisis

Bangkok (BT) A ranking Bangladeshi official urged Myanmar to “demonstrate strong political will and visible actions” to end discrimination against the Rohingya and vowed to ask “international partners to intensify their campaign for (a) permanent solution to the Rohingya problem.”

Attending the launch of “One Year on: Time to Put Women and Girls at the Heart of the Rohingya Response”, Oxfam Bangladesh’s report on the situation of refugee women and girls a year after the mass exodus from Myanmar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam urged international humanitarian organizations to press Myanmar to allow access to Rakhine State so they can prepare to address the specific needs of Rohingya women and girls when they return home.

The Oxfam report said female Rohingya refugees are not only suffering health problems while missing out on badly needed aid, they are also at greatrisk of abuse in the refugee camps.

More than a third of the women interviewed said they felt unsafe using toilets and showers, many of which have no roofsand locks on the doors, and fetching water. Half the women and most of the girls said they lacked the means to manage their monthly periods, especially a place exclusive to them, where they can wash their clothes without shame.

Alam noted that many of these women and girls are already suffering from the trauma of the sexual violence they suffered in Myanmar.

The Minister welcomed the report for providing valuable guidelines for international donors “in prioritizing their contribution and the humanitarian actors in planning and implementation.”

He also praised Oxfam’s gender sensitive humanitarian response, agreeing with the report’s recommendation that 15 percent of the funds to address the Rohingya crisis be used for the specific needs of women and girls, especially mothers who have lost their husbands and have to support their families on their own.

Stressing the need for a permanent and sustainable solution, Alam lamented that “our past experiences suggest that Myanmar does not fulfil its obligations unless pressured by the international community.”

At the same time, he said Bangladesh is aware of “the special needs of women and children and has provided customised humanitarian support for them.”

He said 34,338 pregnant Rohingya women have been given medical services and 3,554 children have been born inside facilities provided to the refugees. Aside from these, Bangladesh has provided 8,170 tube wells, 50,508 latrines and 11,190 bathrooms, including separate bathing facilities for women and girls. Income generating activities have also been made available to them.

Alam said Rohingya women and girls generally never had access to these services before.

To address the security concerns of the female refugees, he said more than 1,200 law enforcers have been deployed to 11 checkpoints and a 13-kilometer power line set up to provide energy for 50 street lights, 10 flood lights and 1,040 solar, Alam said. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have been requested to provide additional support to ensure electricity inside the camps, he added.

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