Dhaka – The UN refugee agency has donated five college buses for students in Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in squalid camps create pressure on host community, to facilitate better transport for the local students.
The agency in a press statement said that the donation was part of the ongoing assistance to acknowledging the support that the local community has provided in response to the Rohingya influx in 2017.
More than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a violent military crackdown in August 2017 making the world’s largest refugee settlement at Kutupalong in the Bangladesh’s south-eastern district of Cox’s Bazar.
The buses were presented at a handover ceremony attended by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Abul Kalam, Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar Mohammed Kamal Hossain, and the principals of five colleges in Ukhiya and Cox’s Bazar, as well as senior UNHCR staff.
“I’d like to thank UNHCR to heal some of the wounds suffered by the locals of Ukhiya, Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar district following the influx of nearly a million Rohingya,” the RRRC chief said.
We need to ensure that their commitment and support does not end here and continues towards health, education, infrastructural upgrade and other affected areas in the community.”
UNHCR’s Senior Field/Technical Coordinator, Oscar Sanchez Pineiro said the agency was happy to be able to provide this support for college students.
“Many youngsters have to travel long distances to get to their colleges. The buses can help to reduce their commuting time as well as provide a safer and more secure service so they are able to continue their education,” Pineiro said.
UNHCR and its partners recognize the impact that the Rohingya response has meant for the host communities which is why we are undertaking a number of initiatives to support the local communities and host government meet some of the arising challenges.
The project part of the Quick Impact Projects (QIPS) that UNHCR has been undertaking since 2018, implemented by local non-governmental partners and working closely with local government departments, according to the UNHCR statement.
The programme aims to improve the lives of local Bangladeshis in refugee-hosting areas by supporting basic services, education, health, livelihoods and infrastructure initiatives, it added.
Last year, 40 Quick Impact Projects were begun, mostly in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts, benefitting more than 134,000 local Bangladeshis. The QIPS, designed to produce rapid results, were carried out after consultations with local communities and authorities.
Some of the projects included site and building improvement works in 70 education institutions, both schools and colleges.
Bangladeshi communities were the first to respond to the large influx of Rohingya refugees in 2017, and along with the Government of Bangladesh, helped to provide lifesaving support.
However, humanitarian agencies have also recognized the additional strains that the refugee population increase has had on local communities, with additional pressures on transportation, water resources, the environment and infrastructure, according to the UN.