The Cox's Bazar CSO NGO Forum has appealed to the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) to revise its application conditions for a $4 million Central Emergency Response Fund, ensuring the participation of local NGOs in humanitarian response at Rohingya camps.
The forum – a network of more than 50 local and national NGOs known as the CCNF – issued a statement in this regard on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) issued a circular on behalf of the UNRC, asking NGOs to apply for the emergency coronavirus response fund (CERF) by July 2. The fund will be managed by the IOM.
Abu Kashem, co-chair of CCNF said, "Rohingya response requires an inclusive approach, but the UN has little proportionate and balanced approach for the participation of local NGOs and the local government.
"We believe that giving only two days to apply [for the CERF] is intended to deprive local NGOs. The government should also look into whether the interest of the local government and local NGOs are being rightly addressed."
According to the CCNF statement, UN agencies and International-NGOs (I-NGO) had expressed commitment several times to implement participation of local NGOs, but 34 months have already passed since the Rohingya influx hit Bangladesh in August 2017.
In practice, localisation is being delayed and thus it is being denied, the release read.
Abu Morshed Chowdhury, co-chair of the forum said, "There is a condition [for engaging in Rohingya response] that the NGOs must have independent projects, and have to be part of the Joint Response Plan (JRP) as prepared by ISCG.
"How will a local NGO get its own fund to invest? The ISCG is fully managed by the UN and several I-NGOs, and they do not give minimum access to local NGOs. So, how could the local NGOs have participation in the JRP process?"
He added that these conditions were written to fund I-NGOs, and thus to drive out local NGOs from the Rohingya response process.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust, said, "Neither the UN agencies, nor the I-NGOs have any partnership policy based on local social analysis and probable trend of the Rohingya crisis.
"They barely have any transparent and competitive practices too, and it is the reason they are selecting partnership of local and national NGOs mostly based on cronyism."
He added, "Most NGOs [coming to Bangladesh] from thousands of miles away will disappear, and no funds will be left. I-NGOs hardly respect the 'Charter for Change' commitments."
Bimal Chandra Dey Sarker, executive director of Mukti, Cox's Bazar said, "In principle, I-NGOs should bring their fund from their own country of origin. They are in fact engaged in a culture of aid business.
"There is barely any empowerment to the refugees and local host community."