International donors pledge nearly $600m for Rohingya refugees, falling short of $1bn target

©Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

International donors on Thursday pledged close to $600 million in humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled a brutal military assault in Myanmar.

The funds were pledged in a virtual conference co-hosted by the European Union, the United States, the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR), which had aimed to raise $1 billion for 2020.

The US made the largest single contribution at the conference, pledging close to $200 million in fresh funding to support the Rohingya. The EU pledged around $113 million, while Britain pledged $60 million.

Russia and China were invited to participate, however declined to take part.

"The international community has demonstrated its strong commitment to the humanitarian response with its announcement of funding today totalling $597 million," Filippo Grandi, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

Some 750,000 Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following a military crackdown in 2017 - operations that Myanmar is currently facing genocide charges for at the UN's top court.

Yangon has denied committing genocide against the Rohingya, saying the operations came in response to militant attacks.

More than one million people currently reside in the makeshift refugee camps in Bangladesh's south, where cramped conditions and water is endangering lives.

Read more: Over 100,000 Muslim Rohingya living in Myanmar ‘open-air prisons’ as crisis deepens: HRW

Inside Myanmar, nearly 130,000 Rohingya Muslims live in what Amnesty International describe as "apartheid" conditions in camps around Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated problems for Rohingya refugees, increasing the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and heightening the risk of infectious diseases for displaced Rohingya, the joint statement on Thursday said.

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