The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has started a major airlift of emergency relief supplies for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
According to a UNHCR briefing, the first flight which was a chartered Boeing 777 carrying 91 tonnes of aid, landed in Dhaka at 4:30am on Tuesday. Shelter materials, jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats and other essentials were among the relief cargo. Trucks carried the aid to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
A second flight was donated to UNHCR by the UAE is carrying 1,700 family tents and will reach at 2:15pm on Thursday. The aid on the two flights is estimated to meet the immediate needs of some 25,000 refugees, but more flights are planned to deliver aid to a total of 120,000 refugees.
UN sources estimate that 370,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border into Bangladesh since a military crackdown started in Myanmar’s Rakhine state following militant attacks on Aug 25.
The UNHCR is operating at the Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps.
The camp population has more than doubled since Aug 25 with more coming in. As of Tuesday the number stands at an estimated 70,000, stretching both sites to saturation point. Some of the small huts have been forced to take in as many as 15 new arrivals.
The UN says some of the new refugees have built makeshift residences and some are living with the local Bangladeshi community, who are sharing their resources.
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo is currently in Bangladesh. He’s here to get an understanding of the situation and coordinate a response.
UNHCR says they are speaking to the Bangladesh government to provide support and meet the humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees.