Rohingyas in Bangladesh: US may consider taking a good number of them
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said the United States may consider accepting a good number of forcibly-displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh for filling up a large portion of its new refugee admission quota set for 2021 and 2022.
The minister appreciated US President Joe Biden's recent announcement that his country would enhance the admission of refugees to 62,500 in 2021 and 125,000 in 2022.
He also expressed optimism that the US, as the largest donor for humanitarian operations for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, would continue providing necessary assistance to them, including those now settled in Bhasan Char.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller met the foreign minister at his ministry office on Thursday and discussed the issues.
The US envoy informed the minister that during the upcoming launch of the annual Joint Response Plan (JRP) on May 18 in Geneva, the US is expected to pledge again to make a large contribution to the humanitarian operation for Rohingyas.
Momen also assured the US side of Bangladesh's cooperation on the ongoing investigation into genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar, as re-initiated by the Biden administration.
The minister urged Miller to address the difficulties being faced by a large number of Bangladeshi students to obtain visa interview dates at the US embassy in Dhaka, as many of them may lose admission and scholarships due to delay caused by the pandemic.
The US envoy informed that many interview slots had to be cancelled due to the "lockdown".
He assured Momen of doing the best to make sure all student visa applicants get interview slots on a priority basis once the "lockdown" is over.
The main point of the discussion was the process of acquiring AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the US to meet the growing needs in Bangladesh.
Momen said while the immediate need of Bangladesh is around 4 million doses of vaccine, the US government may consider providing 20 million AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh from its stock.
The US ambassador said his government was sincerely working on the proposal, though it was difficult to predict a time frame at this moment.
He also informed that the United States is yet to provide any AstraZeneca vaccine doses to India, and hopefully Bangladesh will get the vaccine at the same time.
The foreign minister emphasised an early decision in this regard.
He also welcomed Biden's declaration to support intellectual property waiver for vaccines in the World Trade Organistion, and expressed optimism that this would enable developing countries, including Bangladesh, to produce US vaccines in the near future.