U.S. announces over $170 million in humanitarian assistance for Rohingya Muslims

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FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees sit on a makeshift boat as they get interrogated by the Border Guard Bangladesh after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, at Shah Porir Dwip near Cox's Bazar

By Kanishka Singh and Rami Ayyub

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Thursday announced over $170 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, including those outside the country such as in Bangladesh, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“With this new funding, our total assistance in response to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis has reached nearly $1.9 billion since August 2017, when over 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh,” Blinken said in a statement.

The assistance comes about a month after the United Nations refugee agency said the funding to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was “well short of needs.”

More than a million Rohingya are living in squalid camps in southern Bangladesh comprising the world’s largest refugee settlement, with little prospect of returning to Myanmar, where they are mostly denied citizenship and other rights.

The new round of U.S. humanitarian assistance includes more than $93 million through the State Department and more than $77 million through the United States Agency for International Development, Blinken said. 

About $138 million was allocated specifically for programs in Bangladesh, Blinken said, adding the U.S. was working with the government of Bangladesh and with Rohingya Muslims toward finding solutions to the crisis.

The vast majority OF Rohingya Muslims fled Mynamar to neighboring Bangladesh during a military crackdown in 2017 that the United Nations has said was carried out with genocidal intent.

In his statement on Thursday, Blinken said many of the Rohinya refugees were “survivors of a campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.”

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Myanmar denies genocide, saying it was waging a legitimate campaign against insurgents who attacked police posts. Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice in the Hague over the violence.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese Editing by Leslie Adler)

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