IOM’s Emergency Director Urges Swift, Durable Solutions to Protracted Rohingya Crisis

Posted: 
06/29/21

Cox’s Bazar – Almost 900,000 Rohingya refugees in congested camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District desperately need urgent action to secure their future, nearly four years after they were forced to flee Myanmar, a senior International Organization for Migration (IOM) official said. 

“The Rohingya are still waiting for durable solutions,’’ said Jeff Labovitz, IOM’s Director for the Department of Operations and Emergencies (DOE) during his official visit to Bangladesh last week.  

“Refugees need to have livelihoods, they need to look to the future. Ultimately, all the stakeholders need to come together in the best interest of the individuals who continue to suffer without feasible solutions and come up with a plan.”  

During his week in Cox’s Bazar, the DOE director checked on the progress of rebuilding the camps destroyed by a fire in March which left thousands without shelter. 

“I saw workers putting up bamboo structures, reinstating services and working with the community and refugees to ensure people are getting their lives back as soon as possible,” he said. 

Labovitz also visited IOM’s key health-care facilities, which he said had been vital in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The pandemic has meant that local economies have equally suffered,” the DOE Director continued. “We have host communities also in need of developmental programmes, so we need to come up with an equilibrium where we are assisting both the host community and the refugees with dignity.” 

Labovitz witnessed IOM’s livelihoods support for host communities at a new training centre in Hnila, which engages host community members in training modules on business development and craft making. IOM’s partner Prottyashi is further supporting participants with national and international market connectivity for the products created. 

Labovitz was impressed with the Digital Island Project on the island of Moheshkhali, implemented since 2016 by IOM and the Government of Bangladesh. The project has transformed the island into an IT hub by improving the remote population’s access to high-speed internet and social services. 

The DOE director also had strategic meetings with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, and the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, as well as key humanitarian partners, donors and other UN agencies. 

As additional challenges continue to emerge, funding needs are also increasing, Labovitz stressed. IOM launched an appeal in May for USD 140 million to support over 1.3 million host community members and Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.  

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2021 and beyond. 

 

For more information, please contact: 

In Cox’s Bazar: Monica Chiriac, Tel: +880 18 8009 4048, Email: [email protected] 

In Bangkok:  Itayi Viriri, Tel: +66 65 939 0934, Email: [email protected] 

In Geneva: Paul Dillon, Tel: +41 79 636 9874, Email: [email protected]

  • The DOE Director visited IOM’s training centre for host communities in Hnila. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

  • During his visit to Cox’s Bazar, DOE’s Jeff Labovitz visited IOM’s bamboo treatment facility in Hnila. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

  • Labovitz stopped by IOM’s plastic recycling plant in Camp 24. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al