Rohingya Refugee Emergency
The current emergency: On Monday, March 22, 2021, a fire ripped through a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. According to the most recent news reports (e.g. New York Times, 03/24/21), the fire left 15 dead, as many as 400 people missing, hundreds injured, and over 50,000 people without homes.
Recent history: For decades, the Rohingyas have fled their homes and taken refuge mostly in Bangladesh as they face intense religious and ethnic persecution in Myanmar. As of August 25, 2017, roughly 723,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh as the Myanmar military and the local Buddhist militia killed some estimated 24,000 Rohingyas and committed heinous atrocities, making it widely known as the worst case of ethnic cleansing today. To add to that, the military coup and subsequent government takeover in Myanmar in early February 2021 indicates that the already slim chances of the Rohingya refugees returning to their home country are now essentially zero. This fire in one of the largest Rohingya refugee camps has made the humanitarian crisis significantly worse.
What is being done currently? The Bangladeshi government, international community (e.g. UNHCR, USAID, DFID, foreign donors & NGOs), and domestic NGOs are largely responsible for taking care of the Rohingya refugees, working tirelessly to ease their suffering. Despite significant mobilization of resources & expertise, and the good faith efforts of policymakers, volunteers, and donors the situation in these refugee camps remain dire and the needs remain incredible.
What can you do? Usually when an emergency of this proportion occurs, one can volunteer in the field or make monetary or in-kind donations to grassroots volunteers or NGOs that are helping the victims. However, due to local government and international agencies’ security protocols, grass-roots volunteers and many NGOs are not allowed to work in these refugee camps and it is not possible for an individual to walk in and volunteer in-person. The best way to help is to spread awareness and to make monetary donations to NGOs that have been granted permission to work in these refugee camps. To this end, Nourish Bangladesh is fundraising for multiple of our already vetted NGOs to provide the much-needed financial support and generate awareness among our supporters and their networks.
Which NGOs will receive our funding? Nourish Bangladesh has been in close contact with our vetted NGOs who are able to work in the Rohingya refugee camps. The situation on the ground remains fluid and information on the most urgent needs is still being gathered. As of now, we will be funding the work of BRAC USA Inc and BDesh Foundation. We continue to correspond with other NGOs (vetted and not vetted yet) to find the most appropriate avenue for funding relief in response to the fire and ongoing needs in the refugee camps. Both of these NGOs are currently active in the Rohingya refugee camps that was affected by fire and are helping with food, education, shelter, health services, Covid19, and more. We will direct BDesh Foundation to use our funds in providing dry food while any funds we raise for BRAC USA Inc will be used on multiple fronts as part of their Rohingya Refugee fund.
How can I make a donation that is tax deductible (in the US) or gift aid eligible (in the UK)? Any funds you donate on this GoFundMe page will not be tax deductible or gift aid eligible.
For Australian and Canadian donors: None of our current vetted NGOs working with the Rohingya refugees offer tax deductions.
For US and UK donors: Given the urgent needs on the ground and the extra time that is required to send funds when tax deductions/gift aids are offered, we have decided to not offer that option on our website. However, BRAC offers tax deduction/gift aid options in the US and UK while BDesh offers tax deduction only in the US. We discuss these options below:
A large NGO like BRAC has a buffer fund and relies less heavily on transferring ing the donations collected in the US to Bangladesh to get the job done on the ground. So in this case, we strongly encourage those looking to get a tax break (in the US) or gift aid (UK) to directly donate to the following BRAC portal following the steps mentioned.
Step 1: Click here - USA donors or UK donors - and choose the amount you want to send.
Step 2: For the This Contribution is drop-down menu, choose the in honor of option.
Step 3: Type in NB in the Honoree Name field and firstname.lastname@example.org in the Email Address (Optional) field.
Relatively small but highly efficient NGOs like BDesh (e.g. very low overhead cost and much more customizable to the vision of us the donors) need to receive the funds before they can work with it. From our vetting conversations with such NGOs, it is clear that the delay in receiving funds when donations are made via tax-deductible or gift aid eligible venues (e.g. Globalgiving, Charity GFM) are in reality upwards of 2 to 3 weeks and the delay maybe longer. Since these NGOs are depend on our funds and are financially constrained, our donations help NGOs such as BDesh the most when we send it directly to them. So we strongly discourage our donors to use the tax deductible/ gift aid eligible option of BDesh to send funds if you want to help in the current emergency. If you want tax deduction from BDesh, just let us know and we will get you the tax deduction letter from them. You can contact us regarding tax deductions for making a donation to BDesh via us in the USA at email@example.com
What is the timeline for vetting and disbursing funds? Our plan is to make disbursements from the portfolio every 2 weeks based on funds raised and the logistics on the ground.
How will the funds be spent? The funds will be used to help the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh as they deal with the aftermath of the fire. In particular, the funds will be used to provide shelter, food, education support, or healthcare services to the Rohingya refugees. We send the money to the mentioned NGOs.