GENEVA, June 4 (dpa): Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in Bangladeshi refugee camps may be at serious risk of malnutrition following a second cut to food aid, the UN in Bangladesh has warned.
A funding shortfall of US$56 million compelled the World Food Programme (WFP) to enforce the cuts on Thursday. The cuts reduce the value of rations provided to Rohingya refugees to US$8 per month, or 27 cents per day.
In March, rations were cut from $12 to $10 a month, UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said.
"The nutrition and health consequences will be devastating, particularly for women and children and the most vulnerable in the community. We urgently appeal for international support."
Consequences of the cuts will be "devastatingly predictable," three of the UN Human Rights Council-appointed independent experts monitoring the situation said.
Tom Andrews, Michael Fakhri and Olivier De Schutter urged donors to provide enough funds to restore rations in full.
"The impact on the Rohingya will be severe and long-lasting, stunting the development of children and dimming the hopes of future generations," the trio said.
"Vulnerable populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescent girls, and children under five will bear the brunt of the cuts and be further exposed to exploitation and abuse," they said.
Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims who fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar, Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Of them, nearly 750,000 crossed the border after Myanmar launched a military offensive in August 2017.
Governments had offered "strong rhetorical support" for the Rohingya but had failed to contribute toward humanitarian relief in Bangladesh, the experts said.
"These States must now get out their checkbooks and work towards durable solutions. It is time to match words with action." - dpa