New U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller visited several Rohingya refugee camps and Bangladesh host communities during a December 4-6 trip to Cox’s Bazar. On his inaugural visit, he went to Konarpara to see the internally displaced Rohingya sheltering in no-man’s land, where a tall border fence has been built just behind them. He visited a number of refugee camp facilities, including health clinics, food distribution points, counter trafficking and disaster shelters, and learning centers, in both Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts, where he gained an appreciation for the complexity and enormity of the relief effort. He heard heart-breaking stories from recently arrived refugees and consulted with UN and government officials and NGO representatives on current issues and future challenges in the refugee response.
In all of his meetings, Ambassador Miller expressed U.S. gratitude and admiration for the extraordinary generosity of the Bangladesh people in sheltering the more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017. He expressed strong support for ensuring that those responsible for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya are held accountable, highlighting U.S. sanctions against five Myanmar military and border guard police generals as well as two Myanmar military units. He emphasized that it is Myanmar’s responsibility address the root causes of the refugee crisis, including providing the Rohingya access to citizenship, freedom of movement, access to livelihoods, and other key recommendations of the Annan Commission. Finally, the Ambassador welcomed Bangladesh’s continued commitment to returns that are fully voluntary, safe, dignified, and based on informed consent.
The U.S. has provided nearly $346 million to assist Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh affected by the displacement since the current crisis started in August 2017. In addition, the U.S. contributes more than $200 million annually in development assistance.
Ambassador Miller presented his credentials to President Md. Abdul Hamid on November 29. He described Bangladesh as a strategic U.S. partner in the region and characterized the strong U.S. Bangladesh relationship as one driven by common interests. This visit to Cox’s Bazar is his first trip as U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, which signifies the importance of the Rohingya refugee issue to the United States.