Australian actress Cate Blanchett is calling for increased international support for Rohingya refugees and host communities in light of the approaching monsoon season in Bangladesh. Blanchett, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, said it is a “race against time” to protect more than one hundred thousand refugees living in congested settlements in Cox’s Bazar district from the heavy rains, potential cyclones and adverse weather conditions the monsoon season typically delivers.
Since August 2017 over 671,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have sought safety in Bangladesh. Blanchett has just returned from visiting settlements in Kutupalong, Nyapara and Chakmarkul. “The Rohingya refugees have already experienced targeted violence, human rights abuses and horrific journeys. They have shown unimaginable resilience and courage,” she said. “But now, as the monsoon season approaches, the Government of Bangladesh, supported by UNHCR and its partners, are in a race against time to ensure the refugees are as safe as they can be to deal with potential floods and landslides.”
“I’ve seen first-hand how UNHCR – with its partners and with the refugees themselves – is working flat out to avoid an emergency within an emergency in Cox’s Bazar district”, she added. “Staff are on the ground distributing shelter and pre-monsoon kits to the vulnerable families, reinforcing roads, bridges, steps and other infrastructure at risk of being washed away, and relocating families to safer places where land is available. But more is urgently needed to ensure refugees stay safe.”
Head of UNHCR’s emergency operation in Cox’s Bazaar, Kevin J. Allen, said: “Bangladesh saved thousands of lives when it opened its borders and arms to Rohingya refugees. It is now critical that we stand firmly with Bangladesh and the refugees we serve to protect them from cyclonic winds and heavy rains.” UNHCR is working to build dignified, decent lives for the stateless refugees in Bangladesh, including access to education, healthcare and shelter.
UNHCR is seeking US$196.3 million to continue its work providing lifesaving assistance and protection for the Rohingya refugees supporting host communities. To donate, visit www.unrefugees.org.au/rohingya.