DHAKA, Bangladesh

Japan and the UN Refugee Agency signed an agreement over the weekend to provide around $10 million for improving access to clean water at camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, where more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees have been taking shelter following a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. 

The funds will be used to support the improvement of water supply and distribution systems for Bangladeshi host communities and Rohingya refugees in the Teknaf upazila, or administrative region, of Cox’s Bazar, the Japanese embassy in Dhaka and UNHCR said in a joint statement.

“The Teknaf area of Cox’s Bazar has been facing challenges in ensuring safe access to water for the local population for many years. The situation became even more challenging following the influx of Rohingya forced to flee from Myanmar in recent years,” it said.

The contribution will help stabilize the water supply and improve the living conditions of both communities, it noted.

The agreement was signed Sunday by Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki and UNHCR Bangladesh Assistant Representative Kashiwa Fumiko at the UNHCR country office in Dhaka, according to the joint statement.

The project will be implemented over the course of three years and carried out in close collaboration with and under the guidance and leadership of the Bangladeshi government.

“When the refugee influx began in August 2017, local Bangladeshi communities in the Teknaf and Ukhiya upazilas were the first responders, providing shelter, food and water to those forced to flee,” said Fumiko.

The UNHCR, with the support of the government of Japan, is committed to supporting host communities as well as the Rohingya population, who need continued humanitarian assistance, Kashiwa said.

“Both the host community and refugees will benefit from this project […] Japan’s humanitarian assistance for these beneficiaries has reached US$140 million, and Japan will continue its support to Bangladesh in the pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Naoki.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

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