There is a lack of transparency in the management of the Rohingya Fund conducted through the Joint Response Plan (JRP). This is a claim made by representatives of local non-government organisations (NGOs).
They want the information on management and overhead cost of funds in the JRP 2020 to be made public. The representatives also urged the government to make the UN agencies accountable, too.
The NGO officials demanded a Rohingya refugee policy and a "single line authority" for Rohingya refugee management.
They made the demands at a press conference titled "JRP 2020 has to be Real Joint Venture: Needs a Single Line Authority with Transparency and Local Level Accountability" held on Sunday at the National Press Club.
The Cox's Bazar CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF) – a homegrown network of 50 NGOs for promoting human rights in Cox's Bazar – organised the programme.
The Inter-Sectoral Coordination Group has been preparing the JRP for Rohingya response as an annual planning document for fundraising since 2017. The group drafted the document seeking around $887 million for 2020, and it will be formally presented in Geneva in March this year.
The CCNF's Co-Chair Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said, "The administrative cost of the Rohingya fund is not made public. We demand to know the yearly direct input cost to refugee families, the management or overhead cost of fund, and the partnership cost."
"People's general assumption is that the management cost of the UN agencies and INGOs (international non-governmental organisations) is very high. A high government official said that it is around 65 percent. Transparency International Bangladesh also made the same observation recently."
According to the Financial Tracking Services of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, different donor agencies funded the Rohingya response in Bangladesh.
Funds to the tune of $1,975.6 million was received for Rohingya response from 2017 to 2019. That means the allocation for each Rohingya family was $9,997 through the JRP and other sources.
According to the government agency that tracks and takes care of foreigners or expatriates involved in the Rohingya response, right now there are 1,354 expatriates working on the Rohingya response.
The CCNF representative said that they had to collect information from secondary sources and surveys as there was a lack of aid transparency. Data collected by the NGO platform showed that only 12 INGOs were using 460 cars or minibuses.
The UN agencies are now using 115 vehicles of their own, and 369 rental ones for their Rohingya response mobility team in Cox's Bazar.
"Whatever the number, the UN agencies and the INGOs should cut vehicle-related cost," said Barkat Ullah Maruf, an NGO official.
"We propose that the UN agencies and the INGOs set up a system for their finances, vehicle and expatriate involvement and publication of reports."
The CCNF leaders alleged that local NGOs are implementing only 4 percent of the JRP fund while the UN agencies and the INGOs control the rest of it.
"Local NGOs should be allowed to implement 80 percent of the fund. But the reality is quite different here. What is happening here is a violation of different international agreements where localisation is a priority," said Rezaul Karim.
Co-Chair of the CCNF Abu Morshed Choudhury, Nayeem Gawher Wahra of Disaster Forum, Rafiqul Islam of Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh, Director of Coast Mostafa Kamal Akhanda were present at the programme, among others.