The United States on Monday announced more than $185 million in new humanitarian aid for people affected by violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including $156 million for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the communities that host them.
The aid announced Monday brings total U.S. assistance “in response to the Rakhine state crisis” since August 2017 to $389 million, according to a statement Monday by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
“The United States is proud to be the leading donor of life-saving assistance to displaced persons, refugees and host communities in Burma and Bangladesh. Still more needs to be done, so we need other countries to do their part as well,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said, using another name for Myanmar.
“We continue to call on the Burmese government to do more to hold those who have engaged in ethnic cleansing accountable for their atrocities, end the violence and allow full humanitarian and free press access. And we greatly appreciate Bangladesh’s unwavering generosity in hosting and caring for the refugees,” she said.
About 1 million Rohingya refugees are sheltering in camps and settlements in southeastern Bangladesh, including 720,000 who fled a brutal crackdown in Rakhine that started in August 2017.
In March, the United Nations and its partner NGOs said that nearly U.S. $1 billion was needed to meet the urgent needs of refugees and 330,000 locals hosting them in communities along Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar. By the end of July, the U.N. had reported raising $284 million.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of waging a campaign of extrajudicial killings, rape and burning villages of the Rohingyas, who are regarded as illegal immigrants and have long been denied citizenship and basic rights even though some families have lived there for generations.
In late August, investigators from the U.N.’s human rights body said Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya and identified six officials as responsible for crimes targeting the ethnic minority.
However, a new U.S. government investigation of the events in Rakhine State stops short of describing violence there as genocide or a crime against humanity, according to Reuters, which said Monday it had seen an advance copy of a State Department report on the probe.
“The survey reveals that the recent violence in northern Rakhine State was extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorizing the population and driving out the Rohingya residents,” Reuters quoted the 20-page report as saying.
“The scope and scale of the military’s operations indicate they were well-planned and coordinated,” it said.
A declaration of genocide by the U.S. government, which has already labeled the crackdown as "ethnic cleansing," could have legal implications of committing Washington to stronger punitive measures against Myanmar, the Reuters report said.