The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth nearly $32 million to Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakine State in recent weeks, the State Department announced Wednesday during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Through this support, the United States will help provide emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to over 400,000 displaced persons,” according to a State Department press release.
More than 400,000 Rohingya, many of them women and children, have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence since August 25, according to the United Nations — an average of almost 20,000 a day. The refugees speak of indiscriminate clearance operations, huts set on fire and family members being taken away and never heard from again.
The announcement of a US aid package comes just one day after Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi finally broke her silence on the Rohingya refugee crisis in a speech that drew widespread criticism.
Suu Kyi did not denounce alleged atrocities against the Rohingya community and claimed the government needed more time to investigate the exodus from Myanmar of the minority Muslim group.
Much of the speech appeared intended to frame the crisis as a complex internal issue and contrasted the violence — which she depicted as isolated — with the government’s ongoing development agenda, specifically its efforts to deliver “peace, stability, harmony and progress” to the nation as a whole.
The Rohingya are considered to be among the world’s most persecuted people. The predominantly Buddhist Myanmar considers them Bangladeshi, but Bangladesh says they’re Burmese.
Almost 40% of all Rohingya villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are now empty, a government spokesperson confirmed earlier this week.