US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller has said the international community must continue to press Myanmar to respect human rights establishing conditions to allow the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.
He said beyond Bangladesh's borders, it is also up to the international community to take action.
"Such action must take place in New York, Geneva, The Hague, and here in the region," he said at a webinar in the city, emphasising on unhindered humanitarian access, adhere to the ceasefire, and engage in political dialogue to pursue peace.
Ambassador Miller said the US will continue to be a leader in providing humanitarian assistance, applying diplomatic pressure and serving as a catalyst in the regional and global response to the Rohingya crisis.
He insisted on renewed efforts to implement recommendations from the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State for the structural changes necessary to address institutional discrimination and mistrust.
The webinar on "The Rohingya Crisis: Western, Asian, and Bilateral Perspectives" was organised by North South University's Center for Peace Studies (CPS) in partnership with the Canadian High Commission on Monday.
Justice and Accountability
The Myanmar government has failed to ensure that nearly one million Rohingya refugees can safely return home three years since fleeing the Myanmar military's crimes against humanity and possible genocide, said Human Rights Watch.
On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military began a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims involving mass killing, rape, and arson that forced over 740,000 to flee, most to Bangladesh, which was already hosting an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingyas who had fled persecution dating back to the 1990s and after.
Ambassador Miller said the US has taken strong action to promote justice for Rohingya victims and accountability for those responsible.
"We sanctioned top military leaders linked to gross violations of human rights, strongly supported UN investigation mechanisms, and encouraged participation in ICJ proceedings," Miller said.
He said they appreciate the sustained commitment of Australia, Canada, The Gambia, and the European Union, in particular, to hold the perpetrators to account.
Miller said Bangladesh is not alone in tackling this crisis. "We all bear a responsibility to mirror the generosity of the Bangladesh government and people in hosting Rohingya refugees."
He said they can do that through continued humanitarian support and unequivocal diplomatic support.
In March, at the launch of the 2020 Bangladesh Joint Response Plan, the US announced more than $59 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya crisis, nearly $55 million for programmes inside Bangladesh.
The US is the leading single contributor of humanitarian assistance in response to the Rohingya crisis, providing more than $951 million since the escalation of violence in August 2017, nearly $799 million for programmes inside Bangladesh, according to US Embassy in Dhaka.
More than $22 million is for Covid-19 prevention efforts in Bangladesh, including in the Cox's Bazar Rohingya refugee camps, it said.
Critically, the US government assistance also supports Bangladeshi host communities and others affected by ongoing violence in Burma, said Ambassador Miller.
He said people are more likely to return and reintegrate successfully in their countries of origin if they have access to education and livelihoods, portable skills.
"This should continue to be a priority, in my view, even in the context of Covid, to prepare Rohingya for voluntary repatriation to Burma once conditions allow," he said adding that it also reduces the risk of radicalisation, criminality, and other anti-social behaviour.
The United States remains the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide, providing $9.3 billion last year, and nearly $70 billion in overseas humanitarian assistance in the last decade alone.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the United States committed $1.6 billion globally in emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance for pandemic relief efforts.
That includes more than $56 million and counting in Bangladesh.
"We work with our magnificent partners in the Government of Bangladesh, a nation that has set an example for the world of humanity and decency by opening its heart and borders to almost one million displaced Rohingya," said Ambassador Miller.