US ‘working on’ Bangladesh’s request for vaccine

The United States is “working on” Bangladesh’s request for four million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to meet immediate needs.

Ambassador Earl Miller informed State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam about the matter during a meeting on Monday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Miller has recommended having a regional approach in South Asia in distributing vaccines from the US, according to the statement.

He also said that the administration of President Joe Biden was exploring the possibilities to produce US vaccines in Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies, the ministry said.

The ambassador said that the US would again be the largest contributor to the Joint Response Plan for Rohingya refugees.

The United Nations is set to launch the plan on Tuesday in a virtual event to be co-chaired by Shahriar. The UN is seeking to raise $943 million to support the Rohingya this year.

Miller said his country would continue its support to Bangladesh in bearing the burden of the displaced Myanmar population.

Shahriar emphasised that sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya remains the priority of Bangladesh.

He also called for international support for the Rohingya relocated to Bhashan Char island from Cox’s Bazar refugee camps.

The state minister expressed Bangladesh’s “deep concern” about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He reiterated Bangladesh’s position that the UN Security Council needs to take up the issue, as stated by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in the OIC Executive Committee meeting recently.

Shahriar urged the US to take proactive role to stop the bloodshed immediately. He also reiterated Bangladesh’s support for the two-state solution to the crisis of the Palestinians.

He said the recently published report by the US government on religious freedom in Bangladesh “did not reflect the ground scenario well”, as the Sheikh Hasina government is making its best efforts to ensure communal harmony and non-discrimination in the country.