Dhaka – Switzerland has announced humanitarian aid worth about 13 million dollars to address the plights of the Rohingya refugees living in squalid camps in Bangladesh after they fled the last year’s deadly military offensive in Myanmar.
The assistance was announced by visiting Swiss President Alain Berset after his meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.
The refugees living south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar are in dire need of food, shelter and medical attention, and are risk of losing settlement in the upcoming monsoon beginning in April.
Berset, who arrived in Dhaka on a four-day Bangladesh visit, is expected to travel to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to see plight of the refugees in the crowded camps.
The refugee crisis dominated the discussion at the meeting between Hasina and Berset as Bangladesh urged the international community to keep pressure on Myanmar for dignified and safe return of the Rohingya to their homes.
Bangladesh and Myanmar inked an agreement in November for the repatriation of nearly 750,000 refugees in two years. The process staled after Bangladesh said both sides lacked preparedness. The repatriation was supposed to have begun on January 23, 2018.
Berset lauded the agreement, but he underscored the need for safe and dignified return of the refugees.
The Swiss president also commended Bangladesh for the solidarity, assistance and protection for the forcibly evicted Myanmar nationals.
Prime Minister Hasina renewed her call to Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis implementing the Kofi Annan Commission Report that recommended citizenship of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
“We have discussed the Rohingya crisis during bilateral talks with Swiss President Alain Berset,” she said in a statement after the talks at the premier’s office.
She told the Swiss president that since the root of the problem lied in Myanmar, the solution has to be found there but it must come through full and immediate implementation of the recommendations of Kofi Annan Commission Report.
Implementation of the report was “critically important” for sustainable return of the Rohingya with safety and dignity.
Hasina deeply appreciated the Swiss role over the Rohingya crisis at different United Nations forums and beyond saying “I’m confident Switzerland, along with the international community, would continue to keep pressure on Myanmar for early peaceful resolution to the crisis”.
Switzerland earlier announced an 8 million dollar humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya two months after the refugee influx began.
More than 688,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched a crackdown on suspected Rohingya insurgents blamed for carrying out attacks on security posts in Rakhine state on August 25.
Bangladesh has been hosting yet another 400,000 Rohingya Muslims driven away from their homes by the Myanmar army and Buddhist vigilantes since 1991.