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US welcomes govt promises of Rohingyas' voluntary relocation to Bhashan Char

  • Published at 01:49 pm March 13th, 2019
Before Bangladesh, no other country came to their aid MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

The government plans to relocate up to 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, as early as mid-April

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has welcomed the government’s assurances that any relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char Island, will be completely voluntary, based on informed consent. 

He also lauded the government's decision to let the Rohingya community have free movement, off the island, to maintain connections with the rest of the Rohingya community in Cox's Bazar.

During his three-day visit to Cox's Bazar, from March 8-10, Miller met with local government officials, including the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation commissioner and the deputy commissioner.

He met with them to get more information about the government's plan to relocate up to 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, as early as mid-April.

In response to the Rohingya crisis, the US has been the leading contributor of humanitarian aid. It has provided nearly $500 million since a crackdown by Myanmar's Army in August 2017; approximately $450 million of which has been dedicated to programs in Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, the US Embassy said on Tuesday. 

In Cox's Bazar, Miller visited local communities, Rohingya camps, UN organizations, and NGOs, to observe US government assistance in the region.

After his announcement of an additional $45.5 million to the 2019 Joint Response Plan—bringing total US contributions to $105.5 million—Miller traveled to Cox's Bazar, to ensure the good stewardship of his government's aid money.

He also reviewed the work being done by the Bangladeshi government, UN agencies, and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter to more than 900,000 Rohingyas.

During his visit, Miller met with many organizations—the American Red Cross, IFRC, IOM, UNDP, UNHCR, WFP, and others—to discuss their efforts to work with the local community and prepare for the annual cyclone and monsoon season, plus the ways the US can further assist these efforts.

The US works hand-in-hand with the Bangladeshi government and local communities to build Multi-Purpose Cyclone Shelters (MPCS) and train emergency first responders.

The US, through USAID, has built nine MPCSs—and upgraded another 60—in Cox’s Bazar since 2008. USAID, in coordination with Bangladesh, plans to repair approximately 100 more existing MPCSs in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban.

MPCSs serve both refugee and local communities during cyclones, and are further used by local communities year-round to serve general community needs.

Ambassador Miller took the opportunity to visit a number of refugee camps and speak with the Rohingyas and the NGOs providing services to the camps.

He observed the  work of the maintenance and general upkeep of the camps, as well as progress in preparing  for the upcoming cyclone and monsoon season. 

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