Nine top US senators have thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for sheltering more than half a million Rohingya, fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
“We thank you for your courageous efforts to protect the most vulnerable individuals fleeing atrocities in Burma [Myanmar],” the senators wrote in a letter to Hasina, released to press on Tuesday.
They appreciated Hasina's speech at the UN General Assembly last month where she put forth a five-point proposal
to end the Rohingya crisis.
The senators lauded the Hasina government's “extraordinary generosity” in ensuring safety and shelter of the Rohingya, calling it “a beacon of hope as the world watches this crisis unfold”.
Hundreds of thousands of desperate Rohingya started crossing into Bangladesh since late August after the Myanmar military launched “security operations” targeting the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which does not recognise the Rohingya and considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, claimed the operations were response to insurgent attacks on police posts and an army base by insurgents on August 25.
The UN has described Myanmar violence as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
and its investigation found that the military operations had begun earlier
, possibly in early August.
“We understand that the challenges for Bangladesh are significant, given the strain from the pre-existing refugee population,” the senators said.
Bangladesh had already been hosting an estimated 400,000 Rohingya. The latest influx, dubbed as the fastest-growing humanitarian emergency
by the UN, is pushing the number close to a million.
The senators said despite challenges, “Bangladesh has been a shining example for all countries in supporting fleeing civilians in desperate need of aid”.
The letter was signed by Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Cory Gardner. Other signatories were Senators Dick Durbin, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen, Jeff Merkley, Tim Kaine, Chris Coons and Cory Booker.
They requested Prime Minister Hasina to increase cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration, and its related NGO partners.
“We remain strongly committed to assisting the government of Bangladesh as you face this difficult and complex challenge,” the senators added.
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