News / Toronto

Canadians have donated $12.5 million to Rohingya refugees, and the government will match it

Local charities applaud effort, say money will make 'real difference' on the ground

Rohingya migrant women wait at a relief centre at the Balukhali refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Canada’s new funding will address gender-specific needs of women and girls.

ED JONES / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Rohingya migrant women wait at a relief centre at the Balukhali refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Canada’s new funding will address gender-specific needs of women and girls.

Canadian non-profits hope a new portion of government support will bring much-needed relief to Rohingya refugees.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced Wednesday the federal government will match a total of $12.5 million donated to local charities between August and November as part of its funding for the humanitarian crisis.

"This crisis has escalated quickly, with a population nearly the size of Winnipeg’s fleeing Myanmar in a matter of months," said World Vision Canada CEO Michael Messenger, in a statement to Metro. "Donations matched by our government will make a real difference to these refugees who are living in conditions most of us couldn’t imagine."

Military-led attacks in recent months have forced nearly 600,000 Rohingya people out of their villages and into refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they live in deteriorating conditions, according to humanitarian groups.

The United Nations is appealing for $437 million in order to bring immediate assistance to as many as a million refugees in Bangladesh. The UN has called the Rohingya plight "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing."

Danny Glenwright, president of Toronto-based Action Against Hunger, said there are alarming levels of trauma, suffering and malnutrition in refugee camps.

"Many children arrive alone and in many cases they have experienced trauma," he wrote in an email to Metro from Bangladesh.

"We are calling for long-terms solutions to be defined, so that Rohingya refugees have the opportunity to recover, become self sufficient and contribute to the economic and social development of the communities in which they live."

The Canadian government had already provided over $12 million for humanitarian relief. With the country adopting a Feminist International Assistance Policy, the new funding will specifically assist survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, pregnant and nursing women and woman-headed households. A portion of the funding will also address sexual and reproductive health services and psychosocial counselling.

The UN has recently reported cases of rape, domestic abuse and child marriages among refugees in Bangladesh.

"Even after they arrive in the relative safety of the camps, women are vulnerable to violence," said Brittany Lambert from Oxfam Canada in a statement. "Today’s announcement means more aid will be available and therefore more lives will be saved.”

More on Metronews.ca