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Updated On: Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Grandi Visits Rohingya Refugee Schools

Content by: South-South News

11 July 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Bangladesh last week to highlight the need for longer-term planning and investment in critical sectors like health care and education to help nearly one million Rohingya refugees now in the country.

A choral drill helps these children learn basic lessons.

They are Rohingya refugees, and for most of them, this is the first classroom they have known.

Twenty-nine out of the 40 children here, aged 6 to 11, never went to school in Myanmar.

Only now, in exile in Bangladesh, is that changing. One hundred twenty learning centers supported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have been set up in the Kutupalong settlement, home to around 700,000 refugees.

Students learn math, English, and Burmese, the official language of Myanmar, preparing for that time when they may be able to go home.

But that homecoming may not be anytime soon – which means schooling, and much else here, needs to be thought of not as a stop-gap, but something more lasting.

Grandi said what he saw in the camps was really just ad hoc schools without proper curriculums. “That’s not proper education,” he said, “So, if we don’t structure that properly, in a manner that is standardized and offers proper curriculum to all children, primary and secondary, you really risk losing big time on a generation of children.”

Grandi visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar accompanied UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on a two-day visit to Bangladesh. The trip drew attention to the World Bank’s pledge last week of nearly half a billion dollars in grant support for Bangladesh for this purpose. The high-level delegation, which also included UN Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem, focused on projects related to health, education and infrastructure in order to highlight the need for durable solutions.

Grandi said, “The World Bank has already allocated $480 million in grant money to Bangladesh to improve the conditions of the camps here, but also of the local communities, and really step up the assistance from purely humanitarian and day-to-day, to medium term and developmental.”

Another priority for those funds is health care. Centers run by UN agencies and NGOs are delivering front-line medical services to women, men and children.

Infrastructure too is at the top of the UN and World Bank agenda – putting sanitation, roadworks and durable shelters on an already packed priority list.

But this is still an emergency situation. With monsoon rains beating down on the Rohingya settlements, causing landslides and flooding, urgent measures are still sorely needed.

UNHCR said the $950 million humanitarian aid plan for the Rohingya is critically underfunded.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority who have endured decades of repression and social exclusion in Myanmar. Current conditions in Myanmar do not allow for a safe and dignified return for refugees. UNHCR and UNDP recently agreed with the Government of Myanmar to begin creating those conditions and preserve the right of Rohingya refugees to return if they decide to do so. The UN only supports the return of refugees when it is voluntary and when the conditions are in place for a sustainable life.


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