Two major UNHCR airlift with emergency relief supplies for Rohingya refugees arrived yesterday morning and afternoon respectively. The first flight landed just before 04:30am while the second one at 2:15pm.
A UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 flew in with 91 metric tons of aid, including much-needed shelter materials, jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats and other essential items from UNHCR's global stockpile in Dubai.
The cargo has been loaded onto trucks which will bring the aid to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar in south-eastern
Bangladesh. A second aid flight, donated to UNHCR by United Arab Emirates (UAE), landed at 2:15 pm, bringing in some 1,700 family tents.
The two emergency flights are meant to meet the immediate aid needs of some 25,000 refugees. Further flights are being planned, ultimately delivering emergency aid for some 120,000 refugees in total. "We now estimate that 370,000 stateless Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since 25 August," UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.
The increase in the estimated total is a result of more interagency assessment teams being able to reach more villages, hamlets and pockets where refugees have gathered. Rohingya refugees continue to arrive at Kutupalong and Nayapara camps, where UNHCR operates. With more than 70,000 refugees now in both camps, the population has more than doubled since 25 August.
"Both sites are beyond saturation point. Some refugees who have been living in these camps are hosting up to 15 newly-arrived families in their small huts, yet new arrivals are still spilling onto the walkways under plastic sheets. We have opened up public buildings and set up large tents to accommodate the new arrivals," said the Spokesperson.
Many of the new refugees are staying in the makeshift settlements or among local Bangladeshi host communities who generously share whatever resources they have. These spontaneous sites require proper planning to ensure basic shelter, safety and hygiene standards.
Meanwhile, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, is in Bangladesh this week, according to a message UNB received here from Geneva.
In Cox's Bazar, the head of UNHCR operations will meet Rohingya refugee families to better understand their needs and review UNHCR's response, said the Spokesperson.
While in Dhaka, he will meet Bangladeshi authorities to underline UNHCR's readiness to significantly ramp up its response and provide support to the government in addressing the humanitarian needs and ensuring the protection of refugees.
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