IOM’s director presses for a durable and speedy solution to the Rohingya crisis

Last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Director for the Department of Operations and Emergencies (DOE), Jeff Labovitz had a visit at Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, Bangladesh.

During his week-long trip, Labovitz checked on the progress of rebuilding the camps destroyed by a fire in March which left thousands without shelter. He said, “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.”

The DOE also visited IOM’s health-care facilities, which are playing vital role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has meant that local economies have equally suffered. 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,” he added.

He also went to Hnila to visit IOM’s livelihoods support which is a training centre for the host community. This centre provides training for business development and craft making. IOM’s partner Prottyashi is helping these craftsmen to reach the international market with their products.

The IOM director highly praised Digital Island Project at Moheshkhali which is an IT hub that provides high-speed internet and social services to host communities and refugees who are living in remote areas. The following project was implemented in 2016 by IOM and the Government of Bangladesh.

Labovitz believes the Rohingya are still waiting for a durable solution. But the prolonged repatriation process including the global pandemic with additional challenges, funding needs are also increasing. In May, IOM launched an appeal for USD 140 million to support over 1.3 million host community members and Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

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