Newly released figures have revealed that the British government has cut aid to around one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by a staggering 82%. The majority of these refugees are children.
Burma Campaign UK is calling on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to urgently reverse the cuts and provide life-saving aid to Rohingya children.
- British aid to Rohingya refugees has been reduced from £112.36 million in 2019-2020 to just £20.26 million in 2022-2023.
- The UK government has not pledged any funding for the 2023 Rohingya Joint Response Plan. The US, Japan, Germany, the EU and Luxembourg has.
- The World Food Program announced in February that they were cutting the food provisions to all refugees in the camps by 17%. More cuts are expected to follow if cuts in aid are not reversed.
- According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tom Andrews, 45% of all Rohingya families in the camps are living with insufficient diets, 51% of Rohingya children and 41% of pregnant and breastfeeding women are anemic, and 40% of children are suffering from stunted growth because of lack of nutrition.
“To make such deep cuts in support to hundreds of thousands of children who are completely dependent on aid is indefensible”, said Karin Valtersson, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Once children are stunted from malnutrition it is irreversible, they will suffer from health problems the rest of their lives. James Cleverly has done the right thing in imposing sanctions to cut off revenue to the military but now he is cutting off life-saving aid to the victims of the Burmese military as well.”
The decreased funding for Rohingya refugees was set out in an answer to a written Parliamentary Question by Preet Kaur Gill MP. The government also announced £5.26 million in additional funding during Foreign Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s visit to Cox’s Bazar in March 2023.
In another answer to a Written Parliamentary Question, asked by the Bishop of Southwark, Lord Ahmad, Foreign Office Minister, confirmed that only £8,8 million had been spent on food aid during 2022.
Around one million people live in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the vast majority of whom arrived during the genocidal military offensives by the Burmese military in 2016 and 2017. The attempted military coup in Burma on 1 February 2021 has made the return of Rohingya refugees to Burma an even more distant prospect.
Because of the increasingly desperate situation for Rohingya, both in Bangladesh and Burma, thousands tried to flee by boat last year. At least 348 died or went missing at sea. Further aid cuts will push more Rohingya to risk these dangerous journeys.
The new UN appeal for funding for the coming year, known as the 2023 Rohingya Joint Response Plan, requires $876 million. In previous years, the British government has announced levels of funding during their statement to the Joint Response Plan, but this year’s statement, on 7 March, included no financial pledges.
“The British government ignored warnings about the impending genocide of the Rohingya and took no action to try to prevent it. Now they are failing the Rohingya again by making savages cuts in the aid they receive,” said Karin Valtersson.
Burma Campaign UK is asking supporters to write to the Foreign Secretary, calling on him to reverse cuts to aid and not to abandon Rohingya refugees. The supporter action is available here.