Dr. Vartan Gregorian presents the award to Kyaw Hla Aung.

Aurora Prize Laureate to Donate $1 Million Award to Help Rohingya Refugees

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NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (The Hindu) — Aurora Prize Laureate Kyaw Hla Aung, a noted lawyer and activist from Myanmar, this week announced he would donate his $1 million award money towards humanitarian relief work among Rohingya refugees.

He was given the award this year for his fight against injustice and advocating on behalf of the Rohingya people.

The money will be distributed among three international organizations — Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and MERCY Malaysia — providing medical aid and assistance to Rohingya refugees across South East Asia, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative (AHI) has announced.

MSF, UK, will receive $400,000, while MERCY Malaysia and the ICMC $300,000 each. This initiative will benefit around 3,75,000 Rohingya refugees, a media release said.

The AHI, founded on behalf of the Armenian Genocide survivors, seeks to help those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid. MSF is directing the funds to further advance the emergency response in the Balukhali Makeshift Settlements in Bangladesh, the AHI said.

The organisation estimates that it will benefit approximately 2,50,000 Rohingya refugees, it said.

Kyaw Hla Aung in Armenia

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MSF has hugely increased its operations in response to the unfolding of the humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar where several Rohingyas, who fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, are living.

A team of more than 2,000 staff is running 10 health posts, four primary health centers (open around the clock), and five inpatient health facilities (providing 24-hour secondary healthcare).

“This potential support comes at a crucial time, especially as the Monsoon season approaches and with it the likelihood of devastating flooding and landslides in the camps, MSF executive director Vickie Hawkins said.

The ICMC is allocating its share of the Aurora funds to two initiatives directed at empowering Rohingya refugees in Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia .

It also aims at improving damaged infrastructure at the Kutupalong Camp settlement in Bangladesh. The ICMC estimates that over 20,000 people will benefit from these projects.

We would use the Aurora award to advance our work with Rohingya and other refugees in Malaysia and elsewhere, Secretary General, ICMC, Monsignor Robert J Vitillo, said

MERCY Malaysia will use its share of the funds to provide primary and maternal health care, and operational support to Rohingyas by collaborating with the Rakhine State Health Department in the Sittwe IDP camps and Kyauktan village.

MERCY Malaysia estimates that over 1,00,000 Rohingya people will benefit from this initiative.

Vartan Gregorian, co-founder of the Aurora Prize and member of the Selection Committee said: “We remember the horrors and violence experienced by Armenians – especially women and children – during the Genocide, and we strongly believe that these humanitarian projects recommended by our latest laureate, Kyaw Hla Aung, will have a long-lasting and positive impact for the Rohingya people in Myanmar and beyond. These organizations have made and will continue to make significant contributions in advancing humanitarian causes.  We are pleased to see the Aurora Prize aiding these outstanding organizations.”

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