FILE – Rohingya refugees cry while praying during a gathering to mark the fifth anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at a Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh, Aug. 25, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday the United States has allocated more than $170 million in additional humanitarian assistance for ethnic Rohingyas living both inside and outside of Myanmar.
In a statement, Blinken said the latest assistance package includes more than $93 million administered through the State Department and more than $77 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He said that $138 million is for programs specifically for host communities in Bangladesh.
The secretary of state said the latest allocation brings the total humanitarian aid to the Rohingya refugee crisis to nearly $1.9 billion since August 2017.
“It provides life-sustaining support to the over 940,000 Rohingya refugees, many of whom are survivors of a campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing,” Blinken said.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government declared Myanmar’s campaign against the Rohingya to be genocide.
In Thursday’s release, the top U.S. diplomat said the last package of aid will provide more than 940,000 Rohingya refugees and 540,000 host community members in Bangladesh food, safe drinking water, health care, protection, education, shelter and psychosocial support.
Blinken urged other donors to contribute robustly to the humanitarian response and increase support to those driven from Myanmar and affected by violence there. He said the United States applauds the generosity of the people and government of Bangladesh as well as other Rohingya hosting nations.
Recognizing that conditions in Myanmar do not currently allow for the safe, sustainable return and reintegration of displaced Rohingya, the secretary said the U.S. is working with Bangladesh, the Rohingya and those within Myanmar to resolve the crisis.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been gripped by violence since Feb. 1, 2021, when the military overthrew an elected government in a coup. The latest U.S. assistance comes as violence continues in the Southeast Asian country.
“We’re deeply frustrated by the regime’s escalating violence against the people of Burma,” State Department counselor Derek Chollet told VOA on Thursday, citing this week’s incidence in which Myanmar army helicopters fired at a school and killed 13 people, including children.
He said the United States has a “rigorous process” to ensure the aid does not get into the wrong hands.
This week, Chollet met with Myanmar’s pro-democracy representatives from National Unity Government and Ethnic Armed Organizations on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“We’re considering a number of avenues to ramp up support for the pro-democracy movement,” Chollet said, adding the U.S. does not support the “sham elections” that Myanmar junta plans to conduct next year.