World Bank to provide up to $480 million to aid Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees play football at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Thursday it would provide up to $480 million in grant-based support to Bangladesh to address the needs of Rohingya refugees including health, education, water, sanitation and social protection.

The World Bank’s board approved a $50 million grant to add to an existing health-sector support project in Bangladesh, the first in a series that could total $480 million.

The health-sector grant included contributions based on a partnership between Canada and the World Bank’s International Development Association arm. It will help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh receive maternal, neonatal, infant, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services, reproductive healthcare and family planning support, the World Bank said.

The support from IDA, the bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, will include up to $400 million on grant terms to help Bangladesh cope with the crisis, the bank said.

Since last August, more than 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have taken shelter from violence in Myanmar in the Cox’s Bazar District in Bangladesh, making it the world’s largest and fastest growing refugee camp.

“We are deeply moved by the suffering of the Rohingya people and stand ready to help them until they can return home in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement, adding that the bank would also support the people of Bangladesh.

Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that for every dollar contributed by Canada, five additional grant dollars would be unlocked in support of health, nutrition and population services to the refugees.

Kim and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres are scheduled to visit Bangladesh on July 1-2 to assess the severity of the crisis and discuss what more can be done.

Reporting by David Lawder