By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. on Friday announced it would be delivering $60 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh in order to help the nearly one million refugees in the country, the majority of whom are Rohingya.
Part of the aid offered by the U.S. will include emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation, health care, psychosocial support and education, according to the State Department.
The U.S. has provided $449 million in aid since more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since then, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces and investigators said in a report such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
The Rohingya have been described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people.
"We continue to call on Burma to create the conditions that would allow for voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable returns, based on the informed consent of those who have been forcibly displaced," the department said in a statement, referring to Myanmar.
In Bangladesh, there are roughly 730,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps, most notably the Kutupalong camp in the coastal town of Cox's Bazar which has recently been considered the world's largest and most densely populated refugee camp, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
More than 600,000 of the refugees living in the Kutupalong camp are Rohingya.
The U.S. aid also aims to help humanitarian organizations and the Bangladeshi Government to improve camp infrastructure and shelter ahead of the monsoon and cyclone seasons.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal on Nov. 23, 2017 with a two-year timeframe to return the Rohingya refugees to their home country, however, it has been postponed due to global concerns that the Rohingya will not be safe once they return to their homes.
Last week, a government proposal by Bangladesh sought the creation of an internationally recognized safe zone in Myanmar's Rakhine state, where Rohingya can return to their homes with the pre-condition that they will be guaranteed citizenship upon their arrival.