The United States is proud to be the leading donor to the Rohingya humanitarian response since the onset of this crisis. I am pleased to announce today that the United States is providing nearly $155 million in new humanitarian assistance, much of which will go toward the 2021 Bangladesh Joint Response Plan.
With this new funding, our total humanitarian assistance for this response reaches more than $1.3 billion since 2017, including more than $1.1 billion for programs inside Bangladesh.
This new funding allows our partners to continue providing life-saving assistance to the nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in Bangladesh—including the more than 740,000 Rohingya who, in 2017, were forced to flee ethnic cleansing and other horrific atrocities and abuses in Burma’s Rakhine State. This funding also provides support for more than 472,000 Bangladeshi host community members impacted by this displacement.
U.S. humanitarian assistance for this crisis supports all sectors of the response including education, emergency telecommunications, food security, health, nutrition, protection, shelter and relief items, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. We applaud humanitarian actors for a well-coordinated humanitarian response, including the prevention and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental programs, and the planned Myanmar Curriculum Pilot program.
We commend the many countries that have supported this response, but more assistance is required to meet the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable in Bangladesh and Burma. We therefore urge other donors to come forward now with additional funds to sustain and increase support for the response.
The United States recognizes the challenges and responsibilities that the response has placed on the Government and people of Bangladesh and we reiterate the continued commitment of the international community to addressing this crisis. In the aftermath of the February 1 coup and the brutal military crackdown in Burma, our commitment to the people of Burma, including Rohingya refugees, is unwavering. We will continue to support Bangladesh as well as other countries in the region that have made the humanitarian gesture to receive Rohingya refugees. We continue to call on all states to provide humanitarian assistance and ensure protection of vulnerable Rohingya.
We have repeatedly and strongly condemned the February 1 military coup in Burma. We are pressing the military regime to stop the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and immediately restore Burma’s path to democracy, as we promote accountability for all those responsible for the coup and human rights abuses. Many of those who led the military coup in Burma are the same individuals responsible for the atrocities against Rohingya. We urge Bangladesh to continue protecting refugees, particularly at this time of increased risk to them, and acknowledge its assurance that it will not return them to a country where they could face persecution and violence.
We are concerned by the shrinking humanitarian and protection space in Cox’s Bazar. The increase in restrictions on humanitarian partners adversely affects the delivery of life-saving services. The United States encourages the Government of Bangladesh to establish greater access to livelihoods and educational opportunities for Rohingya refugees and to reinitiate protection activities, even as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We also urge facilitation of prompt and safe responses to disasters, such as the devastating fires in the Cox’s Bazar camps.
On Bhasan Char, the United States welcomes the dialogue between the UN and the Government of Bangladesh, and we encourage continued close consultations. We reiterate any relocations of refugees to Bhasan Char must be voluntary and refugees’ right to freedom of movement must be respected. We also urge Bangladesh to grant the UN independent access to refugees on the island, as well as approval to conduct a comprehensive technical and protection assessment.
I want to end by joining the Government of Bangladesh, the UN, and IOM in calling for durable solutions for the Rohingya people.