US welcomes govt assurances of Rohingyas’ voluntary relocation to Bhashan Char

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

Rohingya refugees. File photo

Dhaka, Mar 13 : US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has welcomed the government’s assurances that any relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char island will be fully voluntary based on informed consent.

He also welcomed assurances that those who choose to go will have free movement off the island to maintain connections with rest of the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar.

Miller, during his visit to Cox’s Bazar from March 8 to 10, met local government officials, including the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, and the deputy commissioner to learn more about the government’s plan to begin relocating up to 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char as early as mid-April.

The US is the leading contributor of humanitarian assistance in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis. It has provided nearly $500 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017, with approximately $450 million of that total dedicated to programmes in Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, said the US Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday.

In Cox’s Bazar, Miller observed US government assistance in the region and visited both local communities and the Rohingya camps, and met government officials as well as UN organisations and NGOs operating in the region.

After his March 3 announcement of an additional $45.5 million to the 2019 Joint Response Plan, bringing total US contributions to $105.5 million, Ambassador Miller travelled to Cox’s Bazar to ensure good stewardship of US tax dollars and to review the outstanding work being done by the Bangladeshi government, UN agencies, and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter to more than 900,000 Rohingya.

During his visit, Ambassador Miller met with the American Red Cross, IFRC, IOM, UNDP, UNHCR, WFP, and others, to discuss their outstanding efforts working with the local community to prepare for the annual cyclone and monsoon season and how 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 MPCS’s and upgraded another 60 in Cox’s Bazar since 2008. USAID, in coordination with Bangladesh, plans to repair approximately 100 more existing MPCS’s in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban.

MPCS’s serve both refugee and local communities during a cyclone, 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 Rohingya and the NGOs providing services to the camps.

He saw how the maintenance and general upkeep of the camps, as well as preparations for the upcoming cyclone and monsoon season, are progressing.

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