Dubai: A third UAE flight carrying emergency relief for Rohingya refugees is scheduled to leave from Dubai to Dhaka on Tuesday.
On Monday, more than 24,600 plastic tarpaulin sheets were being prepared by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) at International Humanitarian City (IHC) to be loaded on to the flight.
The aid, worth more than $325,600 (around Dh1.1 million), will help in creating temporary shelter for more than 123,300 Rohingya, a stateless people who are seeking refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar.
Two other flights have already made the trip carrying aid; one of which was sponsored by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
More than 430,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, according to a senior UNHCR official. Heavy rains and muddy grounds have only added to their plight. The plastic sheets sent from Dubai will provide temporary relief until a more lasting solution for shelter can be arranged.
The aid will be flown to Dhaka first and then to Chittagong before taken by road to Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh, where most of the refugees are.
Next month, two more aid flights are planned from the UAE to Bangladesh, carrying tents, blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets and “core relief” supplies, said Toby Harward, UNHCR’s Head of Office in the UAE.
Harward said IHC-based UNHCR relief stockpile and operations are “absolutely critical” in responding to the Rohingya emergency and other crises worldwide.
He added that the UNHCR is assisting Bangladesh with biometric registration of Rohingya refugees to determine the details of arrivals, so aid response can be scaled up as required.
Harward downplayed reports claiming that Rohingya refugee numbers are falling.
“The numbers are very, very fluid, and we have only recently been able to start proper registration of refugees. We have a fairly good idea of the numbers but we cannot accurately predict the numbers at this stage. It’s too early to say there is a drop in numbers. We are responding as best we can, based on the figures we have available to us now,” he said.
Monday’s aid will mark the second airlift from the IHC. Harward thanked the generosity of the Dubai government and the sponsorship of Shaikh Mohammad.
“We very much depend on the generosity of the donors, like the UAE government, to help us respond quickly and timely. For us, the IHC here in Dubai is absolutely critical. Dubai, as a geostrategic hub, is a fantastic base for the UNHCR. We have over 100,000 square metres of warehouse space here, so we are able to bring in large amounts of relief items here, through Jabal Ali port and into IHC. And because of the access and because of the relationship we have formed with the UAE government, and the Dubai government in particular, we are able to respond quickly in getting these emergency items out to the emergency zones.”