Country Report Bangladesh January 1996 Main report

Political scene: A shortage of funds slows the Rohingya repatriation

By December the number of Rohingya refugees still remaining in camps around the Cox's Bazar area of Bangladesh had fallen to 53,000, only 20% of the number who had fled from Myanmar to escape persecution by the military authorities. As a result, only six camps remained open, down from 20. But earlier hopes that all the refugees would have returned home by the end of 1995 have been disappointed because of a slowdown in the pace of repatriation in the final months of the year. The new target is for all the refugees to have returned to their homes in the Arakan region of Myanmar by the end of 1996.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) attributed the slower pace of repatriation recently to a lack of funds. The rehabilitation and reintegration programme within Myanmar is being run by the UNHCR with a World Food Programme (WFP) Food for Work component. According to the UNHCR, the costs of the programme during 1994 and 1995 were $38m, of which $34.5m had been paid by the end of October 1995. In 1996-97 expenditure is forecast to be $23.9m. The UNHCR therefore appealed to donors for more aid so that the rest of the refugees could be repatriated and rehabilitated as soon as possible, a request that resulted in a grant of o1m ($1.5m) from the UK government in December.

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