Governments promise £254 million as UN pleas for help with 'nightmare' Rohingya refugee crisis

Roland Oliphant
Over 600,000 Rohingya have fled Burma since August - Getty Images AsiaPac

Britain will spend an additional £12 million on emergency food, shelter, and hygiene measures in response to the "nightmare"  refugee crisis unfolding on the Bangladesh-Burma border. 

The aid package is part of $335 million  (£254 million) promised by governments at an emergency conference on the Rohingya refugee crisis in Geneva on Monday. 

“During my recent visits to Burma and Bangladesh, I saw for myself some of the communities which have been so badly damaged by what is happening in Burma," said  Mark Field, Minister for Asia, who attended the conference. 

“I hope that the international community will continue to unite with the UK in its efforts, and help bring an end to this terrible humanitarian crisis.”

The UNHCR estimates 603,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have crossed into Bangladesh since the Burmese military launched a violent crackdown in response to attacks by a militant group on August 25. 

 Rohingya refugee children carry supplies through Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar Credit:  HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters

The influx of people has placed immense strain on infrastructure in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, where hundreds of thousands are living under plastic sheeting in forests without sanitation, medical support, or running water. 

The United Nations says it needs $434m to sustain the relief effort there until February. 

Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian chief, called the situation a ""humanitarian and human rights nightmare" but said the conference had been "promising."

William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (left), and Mark Lowcock, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, right,  Credit:  Salvatore Di Nolfi/ Keystone

He added: "Pledges are one thing. It's really important to us that the pledges are translated as soon as possible into contributions".

Monday's announcement brings Britain's contribution to £47 million. The aid is expected to go on emergency food and water, shelter, and support for women and girls who have suffered sexual violence. 

Bangladesh on Monday accused Burma of  "baseless and malicious propaganda" over the characterization of the Rohingya as immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Burmese authorities said on Monday that two people were killed by unidentified gunmen on the Burma-Bangladesh border. 

The two men were part of a hunting party who had inadvertently crossed the border into Bangladesh near the village of Aung Thabyay, Burma said. 

"The four crossed the border fence while searching for a boar and got shot by 15 people wearing civilian clothes with guns 100 yards from the border fence," Myanmar said in a statement. 

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes