US focuses on solution to Rohingya crisis: Kerry

To make vaccines available for other countries, he says

Diplomatic Correspondent

10 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Lauding Bangladesh's extraordinary generosity, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry has said the United States remains very focused on supporting all concerned in finding a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis and restoring democracy in Myanmar.

Addressing a joint briefing at state guesthouse Padma following his meeting with a high profile Bangladesh delegation led by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Kerry said the international community needs to step up demonstrating their responsibility to end the Rohingya crisis.

The US Presidential envoy highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership in demonstrating an "extraordinary active generosity" which, he thinks, is obviously “very expensive” for Bangladesh.

Kerry, who arrived in Dhaka on Friday morning on a brief but meaningful visit, handed over the US President’s invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in person to attend the virtual "Leaders Summit on Climate" scheduled for April 22-23.

The trip laid the groundwork for President Joseph Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be recognised for Bangladesh’s leadership of countries, especially the vulnerable to climate impacts.

Kerry also told the briefing that the US government is committed to make vaccines available for other countries soon after 100 million Americans are inoculated in the first 100 days of President Joe Biden's administration.

He said the United States will continue to produce vaccines, which will be made available for other countries of the world, soon 100 million Americans are vaccinated.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Saber Hossain Chowdhy MP, Special Envoy for the Vulnerable Forum Presidency Abul Kalam Azad, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller were present at the meeting.

Turning to the Rohingya issue, Kerry said Bangladesh is one of the greatest helping hands and it has given Rohingyas an Island so that Rohingyas are able to find a future but that is not a long-term future. “That doesn’t resolve the issue.”

The UNHCR and the Bangladesh government have individually registered over 860,000 displaced Rohingyas and stateless Rohingya community in the makeshift settlements in Cox’s Bazar. Currently, there are over 1.1 million Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh since 1991.

Speaking at the press briefing, Kerry said what is happening to the people of Myanmar now is one of the greatest challenges of the planet, and the Biden administration is very grateful for the incredible spirit and helping hand that Bangladesh has given to the Rohingyas.

He said this is really one of those things under the United Nations but noted that individual countries are stepping up which is helpful.

“I know that we fought very hard and tried to see Myanmar moving in a different direction. We had high expectations. I personally visited Naypyidaw and met the generals,” Kerry said, recalling that they had tried very hard to ensure accountability but have not honored that.

At the briefing, Foreign Minister Momen said Rohingyas are destroying the forest and geological system and hope that the US’ proactive initiative can help them for a safe and dignified return to Myanmar for a decent living.

Kerry also spoke elaborately on the cooperation between the US and Bangladesh on the climate front, pledging assistance in technology transfer for renewable energy, cut carbon emission and adaptation interventions.

The former US Secretary of State has been made Joe Biden's climate envoy as the US returned to the Paris Agreement, from which Donald Trump withdrew, generating high hopes among the scientists and global leaders in fighting climate change.

Kerry, who arrived in Dhaka at 11:30am, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Environment Minister Md. Shahab Uddin, Special Envoy of the Vulnerable Forum Presidency AbulKalam Azad, Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, and international partners to discuss cooperation to partner with Bangladesh and other vulnerable countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  He left Dhaka at 5:48pm on Friday.  

As the Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the Vulnerable Twenty Group of Finance Ministers, Bangladesh plays a vital role in international efforts to combat climate change and adapt and build resilience to climate hazards, said the US Embassy.

It said the visit underscored US commitment to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change designed to limit global warming.  Kerry’s discussions focused on cooperation in promoting prosperity through climate policy, investment, innovation, and sustainable economic growth.

The US Presidential envoy also participated in a climate finance roundtable with international partners hosted by US Ambassador Earl Miller at his official residence.

The United States will work closely with the international community and private sector to mobilize investment to support mitigation and adaptation to stem the climate crisis and support prosperity.

“Kerry’s visit underscores the importance the United States places on our partnership with Bangladesh, a vital leader in international efforts to address climate change,” Earl Miller said.

Kerry’s trip also included stops in Abu Dhabi and New Delhi to raise global climate ambition ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November. 

“You have seen and will continue to see [the United States] weaving climate change into our most important bilateral and multilateral conversations at all levels.  In these conversations, we’re asking other leaders:  how can we do more together?” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a February statement when the United States officially rejoined the Paris Agreement.