It is my pleasure to be with you this afternoon for this very important pledging conference as we work together to fundraise for life-saving assistance for Rohingya, host communities in Bangladesh, and other vulnerable populations affected by the Rakhine State crisis.
Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States is providing more than $127 million in additional humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis, including more than $89 million for programs inside Bangladesh.
This funding will allow our partners to continue providing life-saving assistance to some of the over 900,000 Rohingya refugees who have taken refuge in Bangladesh and to Bangladeshi host communities, as well as people affected by violence in Burma.
The United States is proud to be the leading donor to the humanitarian response to this crisis in Burma and Bangladesh. This newly announced funding brings the total U.S. funding in response to the Rakhine State crisis to more than $669 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017. Of this funding, more than $553 million is for programs inside Bangladesh.
This money saves lives. It helps provide protection, emergency shelter, food and nutritional assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation, as well as healthcare and psychosocial support for people affected by the crisis, among other activities. This funding also includes programs to improve disaster preparedness and bolster access to education and livelihoods for Rohingya in Bangladesh, which will be key to preventing instability in the camps and preparing Rohingya for voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation when conditions in Burma are conducive to such returns.
U.S. government disaster experts in Burma and Bangladesh also continue to work with partners to assess needs and provide humanitarian aid to people in need.
We commend the many countries that have provided support to this response, yet more assistance is required to meet the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable in Bangladesh and Burma. The United States cannot meet the tremendous funding needs alone and we continue to call on others to respond.
We urge other donors, including those who are considering, but have not yet made a contribution toward this humanitarian response, to come forward now with their contributions.
The United States commends the generosity of the Government and people of Bangladesh in responding to this humanitarian crisis and appreciates their continued efforts to ensure assistance reaches the affected populations. The U.S. government remains committed to ensuring that humanitarian and development assistance continues to reach the Bangladeshi communities who have so generously hosted Rohingya refugees.
We continue to call on Burma to create the conditions allowing for voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable returns, based on the informed consent of those who have been forcibly displaced.
Repatriations must be based on relevant and reliable knowledge of the conditions in Burma. Reports from the UN and the remaining Rohingya in Rakhine State assess that conditions in Rakhine are neither safe for nor conducive to voluntary repatriation at this time.
Unhindered humanitarian access is needed to better understand conditions in areas of return, enable relief agencies to reach people requiring humanitarian assistance in Burma, and allow refugees and internally displaced persons to make an informed choice about returning.
We continue to urge the Government of Burma to allow such humanitarian access and to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State in accordance with the recommendations of the Annan Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State.
We encourage the Government of Burma to work with the Government of Bangladesh to facilitate the use of the Burmese curriculum to teach Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh. This will help facilitate the reintegration of Rohingya youth who choose to return to Burma.
We must remain steadfast in our commitment to this humanitarian response and work together with Bangladesh and Burma to address the root causes of the crisis and develop durable solutions.
We also would like to commend the strong commitment of our UN, international and local humanitarian organization partners, who are on the front lines every day addressing challenges and meeting life-saving needs; and lastly, we would like to underscore our unwavering support for the Rohingya and members of other vulnerable populations affected by this crisis, who need a sense of hope for a better future. We would like them to know that the United States and the international community, as evidenced here today, remains seized with addressing the crisis, and will continue to stand with them.
I thank you for coming together today.