Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today thanked the prime minister of Bangladesh for providing assistance to more than half a million Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Burma.
 
“We understand that the challenges for Bangladesh are significant, given the strain from the pre-existing refugee population,” states the senators’ letter. “We believe though that despite these challenges, Bangladesh has been a shining example for all countries in supporting fleeing civilians in desperate need of aid.”
 
The senators also urged the prime minister to accelerate the time it takes for NGOs to be approved for vital and urgent humanitarian work in Bangladesh, and to increase its cooperation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and its related NGO partners in order to “ensure proper coordination of assistance, including building of appropriate shelters, and adequate provision of food and medical care, as well as psychosocial support to address widespread trauma among the population.”
 
The full text of the senators’ letter is below:
 
Dear Prime Minister Hasina:

We want to thank you for your strong leadership and compassion in keeping Bangladesh’s borders open and providing assistance to more than half a million Rohingya refugees fleeing horrific violence in Burma. Your government’s extraordinary generosity in ensuring their safety and shelter is a beacon of hope as the world watches this crisis unfold.

Your remarks before the United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2017, urging a cessation of the violence in Burma and support for the full implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission report recommendations were especially welcome. In addition, we commend your call, which we join, that a UN fact-finding mission be granted immediate access to Rakhine State, given the credible evidence of grave human rights violations, including gender-based violence.  We understand that the challenges for Bangladesh are significant, given the strain from the pre-existing refugee population. We believe though that despite these challenges, Bangladesh has been a shining example for all countries in supporting fleeing civilians in desperate need of aid.

We also commend your government’s decision to work with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to register new arrivals and provide them with biometric identity cards, which will speed efforts to reach those in need of assistance.  In the challenging period ahead, we believe it is vital that your government continue its critical work with international agencies, including UNHCR, which should be the lead agency in this effort, as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and their non-governmental partners.  This will ensure proper coordination of assistance, including building of appropriate shelters, and adequate provision of food and medical care, as well as psychosocial support to address widespread trauma among the population. We would also encourage your government to accelerate granting permission for NGOs to be able to carry out vital and urgent humanitarian assistance.

We thank you for your courageous efforts to protect the most vulnerable individuals fleeing atrocities in Burma.  We remain strongly committed to assisting the government of Bangladesh as you face this difficult and complex challenge.
 
Sincerely,