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Dhaka Tribune

US Ambassador Haas announces $152 million in new assistance for Rohingyas

US spent nearly $302 million on Rohingya crisis humanitarian assistance programs in Bangladesh in 2021 alone

Update : 30 Mar 2022, 01:26 PM

Following his first visit to Cox’s Bazar, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas has announced that the US is providing $152 million in new humanitarian assistance for nearly one million Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh host communities.

Ambassador Haas stayed in Cox’s Bazar from Sunday to Tuesday to meet with local government officials, said a press release

He also observed the US programs that are assisting Rohingya refugees and host communities by providing healthcare, training to fight fires in the camps, protecting the environment, strengthening climate disaster resilience, and providing secure food distribution.

“This brings the total we’ve provided since August 2017 to $1.7 billion. Of this new funding, $125 million is for programs inside Bangladesh — for Rohingya refugees and affected Bangladeshi communities,” said Ambassador Haas.

“I am heartened by the strong collaborative relationship with humanitarian agencies working in the camps and host communities in Cox’s Bazar,” Ambassador Haas added.

The envoy’s trip was the first visit since US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on March 21 that he had determined that members of the Burmese military had committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.

While in Cox’s Bazar, Ambassador Haas met Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) Commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat and Deputy Commissioner Md Mamunur Rashid. 

The ambassador expressed his appreciation for the resumption of regular activities in the camps.

He particularly admired that learning centres were open again, providing education and ensuring that Rohingya do not lose a generation to learning.

US Ambassador Peter Haas at the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) in Cox’s Bazar Courtesy

Ambassador Haas also visited a UNHCR program that engages refugees and host communities to rehabilitate the environment, clean up and prevent pollution of waterways, increase resilience to climate change by reducing disaster risks from landslides, floods, and fires. 

The program emphasized nature-based solutions such as planting trees to stabilize hillsides, water quality management, and establishing water reservoirs.

Ambassador Haas also saw volunteer firefighters using newly developed US Agency for International Development (USAID) mobile fire units equipped with backpacks with pumps and transport capacities during a fire-containment training demonstration. 

The USAID project is producing and delivering 450 mobile fire units and 3,000 20-litre firefighting backpacks to the camps and will train 3,000 refugee volunteer firefighters to use and maintain the equipment, helping to prevent and respond to fires. 

This project will be expanded to all camps by 2023.

He also visited a field lab, a healthcare centre accessible to members of the host community, and a liquified petroleum gas distribution centre that reduces the need to collect firewood for fuel, reduces pressure on local forests and protects women and girls at risk of gender-based violence while collecting wood.

The ambassador’s delegation also saw how a program funded by USAID and the World Food Programme provides emergency food assistance to Rohingya refugees with monthly e-vouchers used to purchase basic food commodities from 21 outlets owned by local host community vendors, including fresh eggs, vegetables, and fruit.

In the fiscal year 2021 alone, the US government spent nearly $302 million on Rohingya crisis humanitarian assistance programs in Bangladesh.

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