The United States is committed to continuing its support for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh amid the Ukraine crisis which has been affecting humanitarian issues in an unprecedented way around the world, said United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman.
Coleman said during a media briefing on Wednesday (11 May) at the American Center during her five-day visit to Bangladesh that the US is not optimistic about any immediate repatriation.
She added that every single Rohingya that she met wants to go home but they want to make sure that a safe environment is in place for a "dignified, voluntary and peaceful" return.
Earlier on Monday, during a meeting with Coleman, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen stressed that the US may influence ASEAN members to persuade the Myanmar government to stop atrocities on its nationals and take the Rohingyas back to their homeland.
Regarding the issue, Coleman said that they are working with the ASEAN member states to push for a peaceful resolution in Myanmar.
"But do I see any prospect of repatriation of Rohingyas- no, I do not. We must all remain hopeful that there will be a day when they will voluntarily return," she said before wrapping up her five-day Bangladesh tour.
When asked if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was playing its due role in resolving the crisis, Coleman said, currently the UNSC was "not the most functional" organisation.
"Of course, we would like to see the security council play a more robust role in a number of different crises around the world, but with the current (global) political situation it is highly unlikely to do so particularly in this (Rohingya) crisis and others (including Ukraine)," she said.
Answering a question regarding the funding for Rohingyas which has been shrinking gradually, Coleman said, "I understand that the UN and their Joint Response Plan do not meet all the funding needs that they (Bangladesh Government) wants for this crisis. And there are also many other crises going around the world," she added.
Responding to another question, she said that a crisis is going on right now in Europe, the Ukraine as people have been displaced and they need a very big response.
She said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has put an enormous strain on global humanitarian assistance. "We'll always stand by Bangladesh and the Rohingya people"
"It's truly unprecedented," Coleman said, noting that the food crisis around the world with increased food prices is a very big global issue that is affecting humanitarian issues around the world.
Available data shows that the amount of aid for the Rohingyas has been declining every year since 2017. In 2021, the amount of aid was estimated at $94.30 crore. But Bangladesh received only 60% of the targeted amount.
This year the target has been set to $88 crore.
Some structural issues to be fixed in Bhasan Char
Isobel Coleman said there are some "structural issues" that need to be addressed in Bhasan Char before more people move to the Island.
Those already there need help to meet their basic needs with more livelihood opportunities, she said.
Raising concern about Bhasanchar, she said, "Bhasanchar is very remote, it is hard to reach and we heard some concerns about the voluntariness of people going there, about the lack of some basic services there."
"We did talk about more livelihood opportunities for the people who are living in Bhasanchar. Housing is certainly an improvement over Cox's Bazar," she said.
Coleman who visited Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar and Bhasanchar said it is 'more expensive' to support refugees in a 'more isolated and remote area' while they will continue to work with their Bangladesh counterparts on the "issues of concern."