Bangladesh seeks US aid to meet Rohingya’s needs after UN cut in food ration...

Bangladesh urged a visiting US delegation on Wednesday to come up with fresh financial assistance for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district who have been badly affected by a recent UN cut in food rations.

The high-profile US team held meetings with Bangladeshi officials, Rohingya leaders and UN agencies and other donor organizations in Cox’s Bazar during their visit.

US Under Secretary Uzra Zeya and US Assistant Secretary Donald Lu led the delegation. The US team is in Bangladesh from July 11-14 to discuss issues with Bangladesh, including on Rohingya.

Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Mizanur Rahman told Anadolu that they held a meeting with the US delegation to share the latest developments on the Rohingya’s situation and repatriation efforts.

“We conveyed to the delegation that the Rohingya people have been passing through tough situations due to the food cut. And being one of the top aid providers, the US can come forward to ease the situation in Cox’s Bazar,” he added.

In response to the call for financial assistance, the US delegation assured Bangladesh that the US would announce major aid support in the next few days, said Rahman.

They also called on the US to make increased repatriation efforts, including pressure on Myanmar to start the longstanding return of Rohingya to the country. 

“We discussed the pilot repatriation program that conducted a go-and-see Rohingya visit to Myanmar and its progress with the team.

“A dignified repatriation of Rohingya to their home country Myanmar is the Bangladesh government’s ultimate priority,” he added.

Nearly 1.2 million Rohingya live in Bangladesh, the majority of whom fled a brutal military crackdown that began in August 2017 in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Most of them are housed in overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar district, but around 30,000 have been relocated to island of Bhasan Char since late 2020.

On June 1, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) announced a further cut in food rations for Rohingya refugees to $8 per month, or 27 cents per day, from $10 due to a funding shortfall. In March, rations were cut from $12 to $10 due to a lack of funding support.

Speaking to Anadolu, Ansar Ali, a Rohingya leader at one of the largest refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, said some of his fellow refugee leaders met with the visiting US team.

Quoting his fellow refugees who were present at the meeting, he said: “We conveyed our concerns over the UN ration cut, which battered our lives in refugee camps. So many pregnant mothers and children are facing serious malnutrition due to the food cut.”

“We need increased assistance, food support and other basic needs as the refugees in camps are completely dependent on aid for their survival.

“We also said we want to return home to Myanmar, but we must be assured that our citizenship rights will be given and we will be relocated where we were living,” he added.

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