TRAGICALLY, more than 68 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes and are in need of generous hearts to help them through challenging times.
Today is World Refugee Day, which provides an opportunity to reflect on the suffering of displaced people and what we can do to provide them safety as well as to prevent future displacement. On this year’s World Refugee Day, Bangladesh stands out as a beacon of hope and inspiration. Bangladesh has saved the lives of more than 7,00,000 Rohingya that fled ethnic cleansing in Burma since August 2017, and is working with Burma to lay the groundwork for a sustainable future for those displaced.
The United States stands proudly with Bangladesh to support a policy of protection and accountability. We were one of the first nations to respond to the Rakhine State crisis, both to call for an end to the violence in Burma as well as to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance. We are working with our allies and partners to explore all options to help ensure that there will be justice for victims and that those responsible for atrocities and other human rights violations will face appropriate consequences.
Through high-level engagement, we continue to urge all actors in Burma to play a constructive role in resolving this crisis — restoring rule of law, immediately granting unhindered humanitarian and media access, and guaranteeing those who voluntarily choose to return to their places of origin are able to do so in safety and dignity, and addressing the root causes of conflict in the Rakhine State. We also continue to call on Bangladesh to do all it can to prevent loss of life in Cox’s Bazar, particularly as the monsoons begin, including by providing additional safe space to shelter those vulnerable to or displaced by the monsoons.
The United States is the largest single country provider of humanitarian assistance not only in Bangladesh but also worldwide. US humanitarian assistance for refugees is focused on helping refugees and other displaced people in countries close to their homelands so that they may return home safely and voluntarily.
The United States has provided nearly $204 million in assistance to those displaced in Burma and Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh in direct response to the crisis that started in August 2017. Our assistance provides urgent, life-saving services, including child and women protection programs, food, shelter, healthcare services, and access to clean water in Cox’s Bazar. We also are working closely with our UN partners to ensure increased support to Bangladeshi communities affected by the crisis, including addressing deforestation and the impact on local markets.
In addition to robust humanitarian assistance, the United States hosts hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and others who have received temporary protection in the United States through other legal mechanisms, in addition to being a significant refugee resettlement and asylum country. We appreciate and applaud other countries, like Bangladesh, that are making critical contributions to support the world’s refugees. We will continue to work with refugee-hosting countries to find solutions that help alleviate the impact of accepting and assisting those in need.
It’s through this collective generosity and action that we may one day join together on World Refugee Day to celebrate a decreasing number of forcibly displaced people suffering throughout the world.
Marcia Bernicat is US ambassador to Dhaka.
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