Wednesday, July 24, 2019

New US ambassador visits Cox’s Bazar to show the ‘importance’ of Rohingya issue to Washington

  • Senior Correspondent
    Published: 2018-12-06 18:08:29 BdST


The new US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller has visited several Rohingya refugee camps and Bangladesh host communities during a Dec 4-6 trip to Cox’s Bazar.

This visit to Cox’s Bazar came as part of the US ambassador’s first trip in Bangladesh, and “signifies the importance of the Rohingya refugee issue to the United States”, the embassy said in a statement on Thursday.

Miller described Bangladesh as a strategic US partner in the region and characterised the strong US-Bangladesh relationship as one driven by common interests.

On his inaugural visit, he went to Konarpara to see the internally displaced Rohingya taking shelter in no-man’s land, where a tall border fence has been built just behind them.

He visited a number of refugee camp facilities, including health clinics, food distribution points, counter trafficking and disaster shelters, and learning centres, in both Ukhiya and Teknaf, where he attempted to gain an appreciation for the complexity and enormity of the relief effort.

According to the embassy’s statement, Miller heard heart-breaking stories from recently arrived refugees and consulted with UN and government officials and NGO representatives on current issues and future challenges in the refugee response.

In all of his meetings, Ambassador Miller expressed the US’s gratitude and admiration for the “extraordinary generosity” of the Bangladesh people in sheltering the more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017.

He also expressed strong support for ensuring that those responsible for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya are held accountable, highlighting US sanctions against five Myanmar military and border guard police generals as well as two Myanmar military units.

He emphasised that it is Myanmar’s responsibility address the root causes of the refugee crisis, including providing the Rohingya access to citizenship, freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, and other key recommendations of the Annan Commission.

The ambassador welcomed Bangladesh’s continued commitment to returns that are fully voluntary, safe, dignified, and based on informed consent.

The US has provided nearly $346 million to assist Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh affected by the displacement since the current crisis started in August 2017.

In addition, the US contributes more than $200 million annually in development assistance.

Ambassador Miller presented his credentials to President Md Abdul Hamid on Nov 29.