Joint Respons Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis

16 Mar 2018

The 2018 Joint Respons Plan 2018 for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis launched today in Geneva appeals for 950 million USD to help Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh. Ambassador Bard delivered Sweden’s statement (see below) at the launch, declaring that Sweden strongly supports the Joint Response Plan and efforts to improve the situation both for refugees and host communities, not least in areas of protection and in addressing socio-economic effects of the crisis. Panelists at the event, including UNHCR and IOM chiefs, urged the international community to step up support, especially in view of the oncoming monsoon and cyclone season.

First of all, we welcome the timely launch of the Joint Response Plan for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis.  Since 25 August 2017, we have witnessed the world's fastest growing refugee crisis. We are alarmed to see that new arrivals to Bangladesh continue every day. We stand by the Rohingya refugees - women and men, boys and girls. We also stand by the Bangladesh Government and the host communities.

The lack of commitment from the Myanmar government to address root causes and end violence in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine, is devastating, and full humanitarian access must be granted in Myanmar. Sweden lends its full support to the Fact Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council. Reports of systematic, widespread and coordinated violence, including sexual and gender based violence, clearly indicate that crimes against humanity have been committed.  Impunity cannot be tolerated, and those responsible must be held accountable.

Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Rohingya crisis. Substantial Swedish global core funding has been disbursed even before the drafting of the response plan. Our flexible funding enables the UN to deliver refugee response today with staff on the ground, it enables needs assessments and coordination, hence an effective and needs-based response. In addition to our core support, Sweden has already this year supported the Joint Response Plan with 4,3 MUSD to address urgent lifesaving needs - including the need to prepare for a scenario with epidemics, floodings and landslides. We call on all our fellow donors to provide urgently needed additional flexible and unearmarked funding for an efficient response. Flexible funding is essential especially for the upcoming monsoon season in order to prevent a crisis within a crisis. The damages expected as a consequence of the monsoon rains highlight the need for identifying suitable land and dignified shelter options.

During recent field visits, my colleagues have witnessed overwhelming and acute humanitarian needs in Cox’s Bazar. A number of challenges still need to be addressed urgently. Rohingyas’ voice and participation need to be ensured - in humanitarian response, recovery planning, as well as in planning for voluntary repatriation when conditions so allow. We see the need for more focus on protection of persons in particularly vulnerable situations, including through Child protection and Protection of victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. The presence and work of international organisations mandated to address these challenges is crucial and we strongly believe that a coordinated UN system according to agencies’ mandates is critical.

Beyond the immediate perspective, risks for long-term socioeconomic and environmental effects, as well as social tensions need to be mitigated. This can be done if we act in time and promote resilience. We stand ready to support Rohingya refugees  so that they are ready to rebuild their societies once they can return home voluntarily under safe and dignified conditions.

We also stand by Bangladesh government in its response to address the socioeconomic effects of the refugee response in the region. Humanitarian assistance and protection should be complemented by sustainable approaches and support by actors who can promote resilience for the host-community and for refugees to live as peaceful and non-violent communities.

Sweden is a long-standing development cooperation partner with Bangladesh. We actively promote synergies between relief and development. For example, through our development funding to UNFPA, we support presence of midwives in the refugee camps as well as in refugee hosting areas. This support for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights will benefit both refugees and host communities in Bangladesh.

Before I end I want to express a warm thanks to the organisers and co-hosts for enabling this event, which we firmly believe will contribute to an effective and efficient refugee response for the Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh.

Last updated 16 Mar 2018, 5.41 PM